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Wednesday October 27, 2021
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illustration of a Road Closed sign

Healthy Streets

A belated Covid response re-routes traffic.

by Jud Branam

From the October, 2021 issue

There may be 100,000 people cramming into Michigan Stadium's bleachers each Saturday, but Covid precautions are just now playing out on portions of three dozen Ann Arbor streets, where the city is banning through traffic "to promote safe physical distancing."

Barriers for the "Healthy Streets" program have been popping up through August and September, after contractor delays pushed back implementation of the $215,000 program approved by city council in June. The signs clearly declare "local traffic only," but police are not ticketing drivers who disregard them.

"It's more of an ethos that people should have that space to get outside and that the city is doing things differently than in years past in terms of looking at street usage," says city public works spokesman Robert Kellar. The city isn't monitoring whether pedestrians are actually daring to walk in the streets, but Kellar says citizen surveys show support for the program.

The barriers will be removed in November to allow access for snow plows, and it's an open question whether they will return next spring. "It's something we'll have to wait and see," Kellar says. "I would hope that everyone is vaccinated, and we don't have to do this next spring, but that's not up to me."

With the closures turning through streets into temporary cul-de-sacs, the newly reworked two-way streets and protected bike lanes, and proliferating condos, one Miner St. resident suggests a possible change in the signage: "Just replace the H with a W--Wealthy Streets."     (end of article)


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