City, MDOT and DDP partner to make Gratiot/Randolph intersection pedestrian friendly


  • Initial lane changes for pilot project start in November; successful pilot will lead to a permanent reconfiguration in 2017
  • New design includes potential for creating new 13,000 square-foot pedestrian plaza
  • Redesign also to improve vehicle travel time and reduce crosswalk distances on Randolph & Gratiot 

The City of Detroit, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) have teamed up on a plan that will help make one of downtown Detroit’s most unique intersections safer, easier to navigate and more pedestrian friendly.

The new configuration of the Gratiot Avenue, Randolph/Broadway & Macomb Streets will make it easier for pedestrians to cross, thus helping to link Greektown to other downtown areas to the west, such as Campus Martius and the Theater & Stadium districts.  The new pattern will also result in green traffic signal times being increased on both Gratiot and Randolph, which is expected to improve travel times through the intersection.

“Great cities have great public spaces and walkable streets,” said Detroit Planning Director Maurice Cox.  “This partnership helps us to accomplish both in a key section of our city’s core.”

The intersection will be reconfigured early next month to reroute northbound Randolph Street traffic and to share what is currently the road’s southbound lanes.  A new 13,000-square foot pedestrian plaza is proposed in place of the northbound lanes to host food trucks, sidewalk seating and other activities.  Macomb Street, which also feeds into the intersection from the east, will terminate at the proposed pedestrian plaza, reducing the number of directions from which traffic can enter the intersection.

This intersection brings together Gratiot and Randolph, which are state roads, with city streets Broadway and Macomb, therefore creating the background for the city and state to work together on this project.  Images and a video animation file of the reconfigured intersection can be found on the  City of Detroit website.

 “The current alignment of this intersection requires four different traffic signal phases and indirect crosswalks, resulting in longer wait times for pedestrians,” said Detroit DPW Director Ron Brundidge.  “This is a great opportunity for us to rethink this intersection and redesign it in a way that simplifies traffic movement and encourages more pedestrian use and outdoor activity.”

The reconfigured intersection will be evaluated as a pilot. Operational performance and safety will be monitored throughout the winter months and a decision will be made on whether or not to extend the pilot or make the permanent change, and the city will be working to design the plaza. After evaluation, any necessary modifications and the proposed plaza will be coordinated with MDOT’s resurfacing of the intersection in spring 2017. If approved, the public plaza will be programmed seasonally, similar to Cadillac Square. The City of Detroit has been working closely with downtown business owners and DDP in developing the project, the reasons for it and the short- and long-term benefits.


“Our community continues to demonstrate the power of public private partnerships through innovative solutions to complex challenges as our city evolves,” said DDP CEO Eric Larson. “We continue to look creatively at our public spaces and infrastructure throughout the downtown to improve connections and interaction for businesses, residents and visitors.

Opportunities to Address Longstanding Issues with Innovative Approach:

  • The reconfiguration of this intersection will bring numerous benefits, Brundidge said, including:
  • Simplified traffic patterns will make it easier to cross by foot, vehicle, or bicycle; it shortens the Randolph crosswalk from 117 feet to 52 feet and may allow the city to add additional crosswalk on north side of Gratiot in the spring.
  • Potential of adding 13,000 square feet of new pedestrian space to the east side of Randolph, along a historic block front that includes many new businesses.
  • Eliminates current routine illegal movements from Macomb Street to both SB Randolph and WB Gratiot, creating a safer intersection
  • Makes Downtown more walkable and connects Greektown to other Downtown districts, boosting the economy
  • Keeps curbs and infrastructure in place to allow quick implementation with temporary materials.



This week, crews will begin preliminary work, which will result in lane reductions on both directions of Randolph, but without any detours or changes to turning movements.  During this time, the concrete islands in the middle of Gratiot and Randolph will be removed, new signals and pavement markings will be installed in preparation of the traffic shift, which is expected to take place on or around Monday, November 7th. The project will be evaluated throughout the winter to determine if any adjustments are needed before further work is done in the spring.


From the Web