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Kalamazoo will spend about $1 million on a design plan for Kalamazoo Avenue

Kalamazoo City Hall - file photo. Photo by Sehvilla Mann, WMUK
Sehvilla Mann

The City of Kalamazoo has approved a roughly one-million-dollar plan to redesign Kalamazoo Avenue, converting the downtown artery to two-way traffic.

The city wants to calm traffic on its major streets and make the downtown more attractive to businesses. City commissioners approved the plan Monday, though some had sticker shock, including Stephanie Hoffman.

“When I think about all the needs that our community has, I was blown away by this almost million dollars for design,” she said as commissioners discussed the plan.

That sum does not include the cost to actually convert the street, a major construction project. Utilities Director Jim Baker said the city has an estimate of how much that will cost, but it’s gone out of date.

“At this point we expect this to be around $30 million, a very preliminary, pre-Covid-19 engineer estimate,” Baker said.

Construction costs have shot up during the pandemic.

Public Works Division Manager Anthony Ladd said the cost of construction would be high because converting Kalamazoo Avenue would affect most of its infrastructure, “From your road to your storm water, your traffic signals, sidewalks, pedestrian access, as well as your water main.”

The conversion would affect the entire length of Kalamazoo Avenue, from Douglas Avenue to Harrison Street.