Downtown Lansing sees newly modified two-way traffic

LANSING – The era of two-way Capitol and Grand Avenues has begun in downtown Lansing.

On Monday morning, drivers appeared to mostly follow old traffic patterns, with most vehicles on Capitol Avenue heading south and those on Grand Avenue heading north. The two streets, each formerly one-way, have been converted to include northbound and southbound traffic over the weekend.

City spokesman Scott Bean said city officials discussed the project in a meeting and agreed it started off smoothly.

Bean said a driver was confused on Saturday while painting new street lines, but they quickly corrected their course.

“Once the lines were painted, people adapted very well,” Bean said. “(Lansing Police) Chief (Ellery) Sosebee says there were no reports of any problems from the LPD either. He also personally drove the streets this morning and saw no problems. “

The change was unexpected for some commuting to work, including Logan Nostrant, who works at City Hall.

“It was surprising,” Nostrant said. “It’s been a long weekend and I didn’t expect to see this, but I’m going to work and I’m going to ask about it.”

DAY ONE:Capitol and Grand Avenues are now marked for two-way traffic in downtown Lansing

MORE DETAILS:It’s finally happening: the next phase of the Lansing Street conversion is scheduled for Saturday. Which streets are affected?

Southbound on Capitol, conversions start at Oakland Avenue and stop at Washtenaw Street, again becoming one-way traffic southbound.

Bean said the Michigan Department of Transportation has asked Lansing officials to put on hold the complete reorganization of southbound streets to freeway exits along St. Joseph and Malcolm X streets as they work on their own Interstate 496 construction project.

This project is expected to be completed by September 2023, according to MDOT.

In all, Lansing plans to convert six downtown streets to two-way traffic by the end of next year, starting with Grand and Capitol Avenues. Pine and Walnut streets are scheduled for conversion this fall, after the state Department of Transportation completes this year’s stage of its I-496 reconstruction project.

Ottawa and Allegan streets — two roads controlled by MDOT — are expected to be converted next year, Lansing utility manager Andy Kilpatrick said last week. Some construction will need to be done on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to allow two-way traffic on those streets, he said.

For now, it’s just Grand and Capitol. And while the change directly affects vehicular traffic, it has also resulted in an adjustment for nearby pedestrians.

A man crosses the street as a southbound vehicle is seen in the wrong lane on a section of the recently modified two-way street along North Capitol Avenue near Shiawassee Street seen Monday, August 8, 2022 .

Mary Simmons and Olivia Hill walked west along Allegan Street on Monday morning, dragging a tank of water behind them.

They work for The Plant Professionals, a Lansing plant landscaping, design and maintenance company. They tended potted plants outside downtown businesses and office buildings on a contract assignment.

Simmons and Hill base their morning watering routes on the location of water sources. Maneuvering between parking spots got a little trickier, but Simmons said they’ll adjust their route in time.

“It’s just a little more effort. I don’t think it’s going to be something we can’t handle in a few moments, but it’s definitely new,” Simmons said.

“It will be a learning curve,” Hill said.

For other pedestrians, it’s just a bit of a wake-up call to keep your head up.

“It will be harder to cross the street blindly,” Carter Chain said as he crossed Ottawa Street toward the state Capitol.

Ken Palmer contributed reporting. Contact journalist Jared Weber at 517-582-3937 or [email protected]

David H. Henry