Stories indexed with the term ‘roundabout’

Public Art Rehashed by Ann Arbor Council

Ann Arbor city council meeting (May 7, 2012) Part 2: Public art was one of two highlighted themes of the council meeting, along with possible future additions to the park system. The future additions to public parks and open space are handled in Part 1 of this meeting report: “Council Parcels Out Tasks: Open Space.”

Left to right: Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) and Jane Lumm (Ward 2)

Left to right: Sabra Briere (Ward 1) and Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) are asking to be recognized to speak as Jane Lumm (Ward 2) gives her views on public art. (Photos by the writer.)

Public art was featured in two specific agenda items. One was a presentation of the annual public art plan given by Wiltrud Simbuerger, a member of the city’s public art commission. The council gave the presentation a basically positive reception.

But the second agenda item required a vote – on a $150,000 piece of art proposed by Ed Carpenter, to be hung in the lobby of the new Justice Center. The city’s public art commission had selected Carpenter from responses to a request for proposals. A vote on the artwork, a piece called “Radius,” had been postponed from the council’s April 2, 2012 meeting over concerns about public access to the Justice Center lobby, where the sculpture will be hung.

A nearly one-hour debate unfolded about the Carpenter piece, with the specific artwork serving as a kind of proxy for a rehash of previous council debates on the city’s Percent for Art ordinance. The ordinance requires that all city capital improvement projects include 1% for public art, up to a cap of $250,000 per capital project. For capital projects that aren’t suitable to have public art incorporated into them, the 1% is “pooled” for use in some other public art – which must be related to the purpose of the funding source. For example, the fountain outside the new Justice Center, designed by German artist Herbert Dreiseitl, is funded with money pooled from 1% of some sanitary sewer projects, drinking water projects, and stormwater management projects.

Jane Lumm (Ward 2) proposed an amendment that would have canceled Carpenter’s project and appropriated the art project funds to invest instead in the city hall building. That amendment failed, but piqued mayor John Hieftje into announcing that he’d be sponsoring a future resolution to take $50,000 from public art funds, and deposit that amount into the general fund. That move is susceptible to the same critique made by several councilmembers as well as the assistant city attorney against Lumm’s amendment: The public art ordinance prohibits transfer from public art funds to other funds. Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) stated that he would be content for the council simply to violate that ordinance. Carpenter’s sculpture eventually was approved over the dissent of Kunselman and Lumm.

Besides public art, the council approved the city’s portion of the State/Ellsworth traffic roundabout project, which includes an improvement for a water main connection – to pipe water from a well on the property of Ann Arbor’s municipal airport to the city’s water treatment plant. The airport also made it onto the agenda in the form of a resolution that settled outstanding legal issues surrounding the construction of hangars on the property.

Prompting extended discussion by the council was a resolution that invalidates sidewalk occupancy permits for vendors in a specific area around Main Street between Huron and William, whenever Main Street is closed down for special events.

The council delayed action on a tax abatement for the battery technology company Sakti3, pending review by the city council’s budget committee. And the council authorized another five-year extension of its contract with Waste Management to haul the city’s trash to a landfill.

The council also heard its usual range of public commentary. The public hearing on the fiscal year 2013 budget enjoyed light participation. The council will vote on that budget, and any amendments, at its May 21 meeting. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor OKs State/Ellsworth Roundabout

At its May 7, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council authorized an agreement between the city of Ann Arbor and the Washtenaw County road commission for a $2.520 million roundabout project at State and Ellsworth.

The  current design calls for a roundabout that is 150 feet in diameter. All four approaches to the roundabout  have two lanes entering and two lanes exiting, except for the northern approach from South State, which will include a third lane. The planned design features include non-motorized paths that connect with the existing sidewalk system and new on-road bike lanes. Underground electrical conduit will be installed for the possible future addition of advanced pedestrian-activated crossing signals (HAWK) or rectangular rapid flash beacons (RRFB). [.pdf of State/Ellsworth roundabout layout]

Of … [Full Story]

Planning Action: Cars, Noodles, Donuts & Gas

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (March 6, 2012): Site plans for two food chains – a Tim Hortons at State and Ellsworth, and Noodles & Co. on West Stadium Boulevard, south of Liberty – were recommended for approval at the most recent planning commission meeting.

Former Szechwan West building

A car pulls into West Stadium Boulevard from a driveway next to the former Sze-Chuan West restaurant. The Ann Arbor planning commission recommended approval of a proposal to tear down the structure and build a Noodles & Co. restaurant there. (Photos by the writer.)

Much of the discussion about the Tim Hortons site focused on a proposed roundabout at that intersection. Though the coffee and donut shop will likely be built by late summer – about a year before the roundabout is expected to be in place – a spokesman for the company said they’ll be designing the site with the roundabout in mind.

Commissioners also recommended approval of a new AAA branch on South Main, across from Michigan Stadium. The plan calls for rezoning a portion of the site to accommodate more parking than the current office zoning would allow – a total of 35 spaces. That’s a reduction from the amount of parking currently on the site, which was approved in the mid-1970s, but it no longer conforms with existing zoning.

Commissioners Bonnie Bona, Erica Briggs and Kirk Westphal expressed concerns about rezoning an area along Main Street for parking. They also wondered whether 35 spaces were necessary, especially when there are alternative parking options – at a park-and-ride at Pioneer High, and in the nearby neighborhood. Briggs noted that it ran counter to the city’s efforts to encourage alternative transportation. Those three commissioners voted against the rezoning, but the resolution passed on a 6-3 vote. It will still require city council approval.

Also at the March 6 meeting, commissioners postponed action on a request from owners of the Shell service station at the northeast corner of Ann Arbor-Saline and West Eisenhower Parkway. Owners of the station hope to build additions onto the existing 1,000-square-foot convenience store, but planning staff recommended postponement in order to gather additional information and analysis about the plan. [Full Story]

Fuller-Maiden Lane Intersection Gets Study

At its Feb. 7, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council authorized a $460,139 contract with DLZ Michigan Inc. to review previous studies of the Fuller Road/Maiden Lane/East Medical Center Drive intersection and propose a design for a reconfiguration of the intersection. Previous studies point to a roundabout as a good solution to the traffic congestion at the intersection. The poor level of service (LOS) in that area has prompted the city to propose various solutions to the intersection redesign, dating back at least to 2005. Depending on the time of day, the intersection currently rates D and E on the letter-grade scale used to evaluate traffic flow.

In the city’s capital improvements plan (CIP), the intersection improvement is categorized with bridge projects – it’s immediately adjacent to the Maiden Lane bridge over the Huron River.

In 2009, the city studied the intersection in the context of increased traffic load due to possible construction of the Fuller Road Station – an intermodal transit center and parking deck proposed for the area between Fuller Road and East Medical Center Drive. The city’s online meeting packet includes drawings of the current configuration of the intersection as well as the possible roundabout configuration.

The engineering and design of the roundabout project will be funded out of the FY 2011 capital budget for the city’s street reconstruction millage. Construction is expected to be funded out of a combination of: (1) millage revenues in future years; (2) possible funds from a federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) grant; and (3) a contribution from the University of Michigan.

In a telephone interview Monday morning before the evening council meeting, Homayoon Pirooz, in the city’s project management unit, told The Chronicle that construction on any project would not begin before the summer of 2012, with 2013 a more likely timeframe. Pirooz ballparked the construction cost of a project like this – once all the traffic lanes leading to the intersection are modified, and the pedestrian amenities are installed – as possibly more than $2.5 million.

This brief was filed from the boardroom in the Washtenaw County administration building, where the council is meeting due to renovations in the city hall building. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]

Teeter Tottering in Traffic


The southern-most roundabout on North Maple Road was the site of teeter totter ride number 170.

The southern-most roundabout on North Maple Road was the site of teeter totter ride No. 170.

[Editor's Note: HD, a.k.a. Dave Askins, editor of The Ann Arbor Chronicle, is also publisher of an online series of interviews on a teeter totter. Introductions to new Teeter Talks appear on The Chronicle.]

I first met Zak Branigan outside the UPS store at Westgate shopping center, when I was dropping off a load in the course of my bicycle delivery duties. He’d recognized me by the sign on my bicycle trailer for ArborTeas, which is run by a friend of his, and alum of the totter, Jeremy Lopatin. [Full Story]