Livernois median on Avenue of Fashion to be removed

The Livernois median was installed during the Kwame Kilpatrick administration. Monday, workers began removing the controversial median along the length of the project from Margareta (two blocks south of Seven Mile Road) to Eight Mile Road, which includes Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion.

The Livernois Streetscape is the first commercial corridor revitalization project to begin construction, funded through a $125M bond program announced by Mayor Mike Duggan two years ago

In 2017, Mayor Duggan announced plans to revitalize 23 key commercial corridors in the city with a goal of making them more attractive, more pedestrian-friendly, and also to attract more small businesses. The plan is part of the city’s effort to recapture some of the estimated $2.6 billion dollars in spending that Detroiters do outside of the city due to the lack of quality shopping and dining options in their own neighborhoods.

“As we continue to reinvest in our neighborhoods, a big part of that is going to be creating attractive, walkable commercial corridors where residents will be able to enjoy a range of dining and shopping options,” said Mayor Duggan. “Most important is that final design was selected by neighbors in the area who took part in an extensive community engagement process.”

Of the seven corridor projects that will be constructed this year, Livernois will be the first and most extensive. When completed in November, Livernois will be an attractive, business friendly thoroughfare that will be safer for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike. Among its key features will be travel lanes that will be reconfigured to have one lane for traffic in each direction to reduce speeds and the addition of a new dedicated center left-turn lane; wider 24-foot sidewalks to allow for café seating, along with new lighting and landscaping; dedicated bike lanes that will be at sidewalk level, as opposed to street level; and on-street parking on at least one side of the street.

A rendering of the new streetscape proposed for the Livernois Avenue of Fashion.

The work on Livernois will take place in three key phases. From May to June, workers will remove the median and install a new center left turn lane. During this phase, traffic will be limited to one travel lane in each direction. On-street parking will remain available throughout this phase.

From July through August, work on the northbound side of Livernois will take place to remove the existing sidewalks and install the new wider sidewalks, bike lanes, new lighting and landscaping.

From September until the completion of the project, similar work will take place on the southbound side of Livernois.

“The Livernois Streetscape project represents a significant opportunity to create a more pedestrian-friendly retail destination in one of the city’s most historic and important commercial corridors,” said Council Member Roy McCalister. “I applaud the efforts of the city’s planning department and especially the participation of the many residents and business people whose input was referenced as part of this new vision for Livernois.”

Removal of the median will provide direct left turn access to all residential streets along the corridor. There have been complaints over the years from drivers about having to drive miles just to make a left turn. Many of the businesses along Livernois support the move.

“Now, travelers that want to do business on the west side of Livernois but you’re heading north, you don’t have to go two blocks past to make a left turn,” said Rhonda Morrison, owner of House of Morrison Shoe Repair, which has been in business since 1954. “We lost customers when that median was installed. It was too much trouble and now the trouble is done.”

“When it was created, it did bring some curb appeal to the Avenue of Fashion,” said Ewanda Wyndella, owner of Happy To Be Nappy Hair Salon. “I thought it was a good luck. People just had to have some patience when shopping at our stores. But the new vision of the streetscape is fascinating as well. It benefits both sides.”

Livernois, which is an increasingly thriving retail district with several new businesses, will remain open to traffic in both directions for the duration of the project.  However, lane closures, the temporary removal of on-street parking and sidewalk replacement will make accessing businesses more challenging.  To help minimize the impact, the city’s business district liaisons, Department of Neighborhoods district managers and City Council staff have been working closely with business owners to help them plan activities to continue to draw shoppers and diners to the district.

Part of what business liaisons will be doing is to make sure contractors coordinate construction taking place in front of individual businesses to minimize the impact.    Business owners also are being provided direct contact information for the project engineer and business liaisons who can help address any issues that arise during construction.

Excited about the enhancements being made to the Livernois streetscape, business owners look forward to the inclusiveness the redesign will provide.

“Executing this streetscape will create a sense of place for locals and tourists alike,” said Rufus Bartell Business Association member and owner of Simply Casual.

]In 2019, a total of seven commercial corridors will begin construction. They are: Livernois from Margareta to 8 Mile; McNichols from Livernois to Greenlawn; Kercheval from Parker to E. Grand Blvd; Joseph Campau from E. Jefferson to the Riverfront; Bagley from I-96 Service Drive to 24th; Riopelle from I-75 service Drive to Division; and Grand River from Evergreen to Glastonbury.

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