Nine Mile Redesign

Nine Mile Redesign Project (web)

The Nine Mile Redesign is a grant-funded public improvement project that will bring multiple amenities to Nine Mile Road. The first phase of the project is the one happening in the summer of 2019 in partnership with the City of Ferndale. It will cover the area on Nine Mile Road from McClain Drive to the eastern border of Oak Park, and will extend into Ferndale. The subsequent two phases hope to continue the redesign of Nine Mile Road westward, all the way to the City's border with Southfield. This project is expected to transform and revitalize the Nine Mile Road corridor, and spark a new beginning for Oak Park.

Nine Mile Redesign Fact Sheet

"Placemaking is based on a simple principle: if you plan cities for cars and traffic, you will get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you will get people and places. More traffic and greater road capacity are not the inevitable results of growth. They are products of very deliberate choices made to shape our communities to accommodate the private automobile. We have the ability to make different choices — starting with the decision to design our streets as comfortable and safe places for everyone — for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as drivers."1

What does “Nine Mile Redesign” mean?
The City of Oak Park's Nine Mile Redesign is a project that is aimed at creating a vibrant streetscape, facilitating a more robust community culture, and increasing business growth for the benefit of residents of all ages. This project includes features like:
  • A road diet - A reduction of traffic lanes on Nine Mile
  • Back-in angle commercial parking
  • Addition of bike lanes on Nine Mile
  • A trail head
  • Creation of new public spaces such as linear parks and pocket parks
When did this process start?
The process for the Nine Mile Redesign began in 2014 with the development of the Strategic Economic Development Plan. A combination of public input and professional consulting helped the City determine that there was a need and desire for the features listed above.

Was there any public outreach during this process?
Throughout the entire process, there have been a number of opportunities for the public to get involved in the planning and implementation of the Nine Mile Redesign. Such public outreach activities include:
  • Three community input meetings specifically on the Nine Mile Redesign (Summer 2015)
  • Three town halls regarding the City’s Master Plan (November 2015-February 2016)
  • “Nine Mile Redesign Open House” (March 2016)
  • Door-to-door conversations with residents (March 2017)
  • Three community input meetings for the Sherman Pop-Up Park (Spring 2017)
  • Discussions at the East Oak Park Block Club (April, May, October 2017)
  • Numerous articles in our community magazine sent via USPS
  • A post-Sherman Summer Pop-Up Park survey (August 2017)
  • Social media
  • City website
What is a road diet, and why do we need a road diet?
As more communities desire “complete streets” and more livable spaces, they look to find opportunities to better integrate pedestrian and bicycle facilities along their corridors. After getting input from the community, the City conducted a traffic study to determine the feasibility. We learned from the traffic study that the volume of traffic on Nine Mile Road does not justify a five-lane road and eliminating some of the lanes would not decrease the level of service. The road diet on Nine Mile will reduce the amount of automobile lanes from five or four (depending on the specific area) down to three.
 
A road diet will not only create more room for cyclists and pedestrians, but it also will create a safer road for everyone to travel on.Did you know that a road diet can decrease car accidents anywhere from 19 to 47 percent?2

Further, the road diet will help boost local economic activity. For local businesses, a road diet can improve economic vitality by changing the corridor from a place that people “drive-through” to one that they “drive-to”.3 Replacing automobile lanes with on-street parking, walking areas, and bicycle lanes will make the corridor a more attractive place for consumers.

Lastly, as autonomous cars are brought to market and become an integral part of our future society, the need for road space will decrease.4 The new road diet will ensure that Oak Park is on the cutting edge of preparedness for our society’s new frontiers.

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What is back-in angle parking, and what is the benefit of it?
With the implementation of the road diet, more room for commercial parking will become available along Nine Mile Road. Instead of putting in old-fashioned parallel parking, the city has decided to implement back-in angle parking.
 
Back-in angle parking uses the same process and motions as parallel parking, but is much safer and allows for the creation of more parking spaces.
 
With a clearer line of sight and easier maneuverability than typical on-street parking, back-in angle parking provides motorists with a better vision of bicyclists, pedestrians, cars, and trucks as they exit their parking space and enter moving traffic.5

Back-in angle parking also eliminates the risk that is present in parallel parking situations of a motorist opening their car door into the path of a bicyclist. It allows safer access to trunk space and allow passenger to enter and exit the vehicle safely.

Backinangleparking
 
Why do we need bike lanes?
Bike lanes are a very important part of the Nine Mile Redesign as the City works towards accommodating all types of travel. Having a designated safe area for cyclists to travel via bike lanes causes significantly less accidents and injuries for everyone on the road. Creating an environment that cyclists feel safe in will also promote physical fitness and environmental sustainability.6

Further, experts say that the addition of bike lanes can help stimulate the local economy by increasing sales for local businesses.

What is a trail head, and what is the importance of it?
The trailhead will be a monument marking the central point of the bike paths and lanes in Oak Park. It will likely feature an information and directional kiosk, public art, and some bicycle-related amenities.

Why do we need more public spaces?
The current trend is to create more community spaces (parks) in areas otherwise used for vehicular purposes. A major part of the Nine Mile Redesign is simply creating more public space for Oak Park residents to enjoy. That will be done by way of two new pocket parks and one new linear park along the Nine Mile corridor.

According to the Project for Public Spaces, a leader in creating sustainable public common areas, there are 10 core benefits of creating good public spaces.7
  1. Supports local businesses and economies
  2. Attracts new business investments
  3. Attracts tourism
  4. Provides cultural opportunities
  5. Encourages volunteerism and community engagement
  6. Reduces crime and suspicious activity
  7. Improves pedestrian safety and experiences
  8. Increased use of public transportation
  9. Improves public health
  10. Improves the environment
What are pocket parks, and what is the importance of them?
Pocket parks are a great way to spruce up an area immediately adjacent to local businesses that otherwise would be underutilized. The two pocket parks that are considered a part of the Nine Mile Redesign plan are positioned at Sherman Street and Seneca Street.
 
An example of a pocket park is the temporary Sherman Summer Pop-Up Park that the City installed in the summer of 2017. This new park involved closing off the street at the intersection of Sherman Street and Nine Mile Road to the alley.
 
The project was driven by the wants of nearby residents and businesses, which ended up benefitting the community more than anyone had imagined. It created a new vibrancy in the neighborhood, gave residents a new place for leisure, and spurred business activity. In tracking visitors to the pop up park, the City was able to track an average of 900 people per week that visited the park and logged into the free wi-fi that was provided for them.

The benefits of pocket parks are bigger than their size suggests, and are the same as those listed previously for all public spaces. Yet, in addition, the pocket parks will have the added benefit of potentially boosting home values by nearly $10,000 for residents on the nearby blocks.

Are there safety and/or maintenance issues when closing the roads for pocket parks?
Throughout the planning process for the Nine Mile Redesign, the City has heard from many residents regarding the ideas and concerns they have for the pocket parks. We have incorporated some of the ideas into the pocket park designs. The concerns revolve around the notion of closing off the street at the intersection and any increased use of the alley that would result from the closure.

Oak Park residents in the area should know that the alley will be added to regular high-priority snow plow routes in the winter so that the alley can be a safe area for nearby residents to pass through to get to Nine Mile Road.

Further, Oak Park’s Public Safety Director Steve Cooper assured that creating the pocket
park would not prohibit the City’s public safety officers from fighting a fire on any of the streets affected. Additionally, in general, the presence of new pocket parks can help decrease crime in the area due to a natural increase in surveillance and patrol.

Lastly, after discussing the issue with the Oak Park Public School District, it was determined that the school busses will not have any access issues with the closure of Sherman Street or Seneca Street. Attempts were also made at contacting the Ferndale bus garage asking for their input. While the City has not received any input from them, plans will be adjusted accordingly if need be.

How will the closures impact our streets?
Studies have shown that closing off a street results in lower usage of that street and lower speeds. To deter thru traffic the City is committed to putting in traffic signs such as “No Thru Traffic” or “No Outlet” to deter people from going down the streets and using the alleys as outlets to Nine Mile Road.

Some residents have expressed concerns over park users parking on their residential street. The City believes that with the existing commercial parking and the addition of the back-in angle parking that is being created on Nine Mile Road, there will be ample parking available.

Does this project include the addition of parking meters?
There currently no plans to put in metered parking anywhere along Nine Mile Road. The City will continually assess a need for metered parking in the future.

Does this project require re-zoning?
No, the Nine Mile Redesign does not currently require any re-zoning, therefore a public notice for the project via USPS or newspaper advertisement was not required.

Works Cited

1. Ten Strategies for Transforming Cities and Public Spaces through Placemaking. Project for Public Spaces, 2 Jan. 2009, www.pps.org/reference/ten-strategies-for-transforming-cities-through-placemaking-public-spaces.

2. Crowe, Becky. Road Diets (Roadway Reconfiguration). U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, 29 July 2016, safety.fhwa.dot.gov/road_diets/.

3. Road Diets’ Economic Impacts. U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, safety.fhwa.dot.gov/road_diets/resources/pdf/fhwasa17019.pdf.

4. Boll, Christopher. Autonomous Cars are Here to Stay, but are Cities ready for them? Foley & Lardner LLP, 16 Oct. 2017, www.autoindustrylawblog.com/2017/10/16/autonomous-cars-are-here-to-stay-but-are-cities-ready-for-them/.

5. Back-in angle parking: what is it, and when and where is it most effective? U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/faq_details.cfm?id=3974.

6. Manning, Ethan. Advantages of Bike Lanes. Meinhart, Smith, & Manning, PLLC, 19 Oct. 2016, www.bluegrassjustice.com/personal-injury/advantages-bike-lanes/.

7. 10 Benefits of Creating Good Public Spaces. Project for Public Spaces, 2 Jan. 2009, www.pps.org/reference/10benefits/.

Proposed Pocket Park Plans

Sherman Pocket Park

Sherman Pocket Park Initial Rendering

Seneca Pocket Park

Seneca Pocket Park Initial Rendering

To view the entire proposed Nine Mile Redesign plan, click here.  Please keep in mind this plan will evolve over time as the planning process moves forward. We are currently finalizing the plans to send out for bid with an anticipated construction start sometime in September.

Updates

April 2, 2019
Press release regarding the pocket parks was sent out to local media. To view the press release, click here.

To stay up to date on the Nine Mile Redesign, like the project's Facebook page.