The following information is from a report prepared by Beckett and Raeder, the project consultants for the Plymouth Road Corridor Design Plan. It provides a brief overview of the project.
The Assessment of Existing conditions summarized the presence and function of six corridor elements: landscaping, overhead utilities, circulation and parking, lighting, signage, and intersection identity. Collectively and singularly these elements project an image of the vitality of the corridor. Therefore, the appearance and placement of each element should be utilized in a fashion which defines a rational and structured purpose for the entire corridor.
Consolidate Curb Cuts
As a basic goal, the frequency of curb cuts along Plymouth Road should be reduced wherever possible to eliminate congestion, reduce accident potential, and in general, improve the flow of traffic. Curb cuts can be reduced by considering parallel connecting drives linking several parking areas with a single access to Plymouth Road. The elimination of curb cuts will also increase the amount of available open space within the corridor right-of-way providing for additional landscape opportunities, increase roadway capacity and reduce rear-end collisions.
Develop Collective Parking
Improved parking efficiency can be gained by consolidating several small parking areas into a single lot serving all businesses in an area. In addition to providing increased parking spaces, consolidation usually allows removal of several curb cuts and provides increased opportunities for interior landscaping, boundary planting, and almost always results in improved vehicular flow within the area.
Provide Structural Parking Lot Screening
Parking lots are a source of visual clutter that occur consistently throughout the corridor. At the same time, they are of primary importance to the function of the businesses along the corridor and must be located conveniently for accessibility from the road as well as to the businesses. In areas where sufficient dimension exists, this can be accomplished with berming and landscaping. In areas where site constraints require parking to be located adjacent to the right-of-way, structural means such as masonry walls or planters should be utilized. Typical heights for these walls range from 36" to 48".
Provide Neighborhood Screening
Screening is usually recommended where corridor commercial uses are directly adjacent to a residential area. Normally, the smaller a commercial property, the greater the need for screening since the site tends to be more completely covered with buildings, parking, and service. Masonry walls are recommended for durability and ease of maintenance. Typical wall heights are 6' to 8'. On larger commercial sites screening may be accomplished with evergreen plantings.
Site Signage Consolidation
This recommendation often accompanies consolidated parking as an effort to combine several individual businesses into a "district". Consolidated signage aids in the identity and collective marketing of the businesses. It often consists of a single sign complex headlining the name of the "district" with a listing of the individual businesses.
Treatment of the right-of-way landscape within the corridor should continue to be a primary determining factor in the establishment of character and the development of a high quality image. Several areas of landscaping can be combined to present the desired image including street trees and right-of-way plantings. Guidelines should be established to encourage landscape enhancement of properties fronting the corridor, including planting/berming/walling to screen parking areas, yard plantings, and an emphasis on maintenance of all landscape features.
Corridor Pedestrian Improvements
Continuous and safe pedestrian pathways and crossings should be provided through the corridor. While many properties have sidewalks, several areas along the corridor are void of pedestrian pathways. Connections between commercial uses and adjacent neighborhoods are important to the vitality of the business area. A uniform pedestrian pathway system throughout the Plymouth Road Corridor is desirable.
Install Corridor Lighting
There are a wide variety of non-related light fixtures that contribute to the sense of corridor clutter. Corridor lighting is a major visual site element that has a significant potential to establish a sense of design continuity throughout the corridor. Not only is the type, level, and character of lighting important to establishing a night-time identity, but the mass and physical presence of the light pole and fixture as a repetitive element in the corridor view plan provides an immediately recognizable feature. Accordingly a carefully coordinated family of light fixtures for roadway, parking and pedestrian areas has the potential to provide a unique identification for the Plymouth Road corridor.
Improve Corridor Signage and Graphics
Public signage including identification, directional, and regulatory information should be standardized on sign panels that share common design elements. Signage, like lighting, is an element that can provide design continuity throughout the corridor. Graphics such as banners, pennants, and flags can provide a repetitive identifying element and a sense of playfulness through the use of colors, shapes, textures, motion, etc. In addition, graphics can serve a useful purpose in dissemination of information such as special events, seasonal promotions, commercial district identification, address information, etc..
Remove Overhead Utilities
Electric and communications transmission poles and wires are one of the primary causes of visual clutter in the corridor. Options for removing main overhead utility lines should be explored, and may include underground placement throughout the corridor, selected underground placement with underground street crossings, or relocation of overhead utilities to corridors behind the primary fronting properties.
Application of Enhancement Elements
The implementation of the Plymouth Road Corridor Design Plan will include the use of a palette of furnishings, fixtures and structural elements. Integrated through prudent design these elements will enhance the appearance and function of the corridor and private properties.
Two fixtures were selected to be used on the streetscape. The first, is a fixture which provides light at a higher elevation, and arches over the street. The height of the light source is approximately 22 feet, allowing for a single arm banner to be mounted on the terrace side of the pole. The luminaire is a "Teardrop" design manufactured by Holophane Company, Inc. The specific type would either be the "Boardwalk" or "Esplanade" version. The pole would be an ornamental pole manufactured from Steel/cast iron preferably the "North Yorkshire"or "Columbia" versions. The poles would include a pre-drilled hole for a street sign mounting bracket. The pole bracket arm connecting the luminaire with the pole would consist of a six foot "West Liberty" bracket.
A smaller version of the above described light would be used in pedestrian and special event areas.
The design plan recommends the use of screen walls to minimize the views of off-street parking. In addition, the use of raised planters would be appropriate in streetscape areas where the setbacks allow sufficient room, such as at the intersection of Plymouth and Middlebelt Roads. This would provide an alternative planting environment to tree grates. The planters and screenwalls would be similar in construction. It is recommended that brick walls with precast concrete or limestone copings constitute the materials for both the screen walls and the planters.
Street trees are proposed along Plymouth Road and all of the roads entering the corridor. The trees would be primarily planted in the terrace and planters within special event and pedestrian areas. Where applicable, the planting environment would include under-drains and irrigation.
Accent brick paving should be used to highlight areas used most frequently by pedestrians. Brick pavers are recommended over the alternative of concrete pavers because of the durability of the product and it's color retention. Due to the expense of special paving and the fact that it isn't easily noticed by the traveling motorist because it is a horizontal surface, it is recommended that it be used in areas where the impact is greatest. Therefore the use of special paving is focused at street intersections where the motorist is able to appreciate it and where pedestrians congregate.
The Design Plan recommends the use of Mast Arms to replace the current traffic signal poles. The use of a Mast Arm eliminates the need for the overhead wires to support the signals, which helps reduce the clutter of the intersection. Crosswalk signals can also be mounted to the Mast Arm.
The design plan notes the use of an intersection structure which spans the entire dimension of the roadway. When used these structures would be fabricated from steel and include assemblies for traffic signals, directional signs and crosswalk signals.
The proposed street light poles would include a pre-drilled mounting for side street names. The name plates would be fabricated to include an insignia of the City Seal with the street name. It is recommended that the sign name plate be a color matching the color of the City logo.
Corridor Design Concepts
To assess the appropriateness and applicability of the corridor design elements and strategies, several "Corridor Design Concepts" were conducted on various locations along Plymouth Road. Each concept case study incorporated many, if not all of the design strategies.
Plymouth Road/Ann Arbor Road Intersection
The proposed concept design significantly alters the appearance and function of the intersection. Plymouth Road and Ann Arbor Road would maintain their current alignment, however, westbound Plymouth Road would be realigned to a "T" intersection. The residual right-of-way in front of Kelsey-Hayes which formed part of Plymouth Road would be converted into a special focus area. This site could accommodate specialty paving, a vertical element identifying the corridor, lower level pedestrian lights and landscaping. This portion of the project would involve the close coordination of the Wayne County Road Commission and the Michigan Department of Transportation.
The balance of the right-of-way would be improved with landscaping, street trees and corridor lighting. Traffic signal mast arms would be installed at the intersection.
Several of the private parking lots would be connected internally to reduce duplicative curb cuts and in several locations increase the availability of off-street parking. In addition, several of the parking lots abutting the front property line would receive additional landscaping and be screened with a low level brick screen wall.
To complete improvements on private property it is recommended that the Plymouth Road Development Authority obtain easements from participating property owners.
Plymouth Road / Priscilla Lane Shopping Area
This shopping area is located on the north side of Plymouth Road west of Priscilla Lane. Wayne Road intersects Plymouth Road on the opposite side of the street. The shopping area was selected because of the expanded right-of-way from the centerline at this location (86.5') and the proximity of the Wayne Road intersection.
Presently each of the properties within the project area have separate curb cuts and access to Plymouth Road. The terrace area is landscaped with a slight berm along the street.
The concept design envisions the closure and consolidation of curb cuts to form a primary entrance to the site opposite the Wayne Road intersection. The entrance would be designed as a boulevard with a landscaped median. The terrace would be landscaped with grass and street trees and corridor lights would be installed.
To screen vehicles parked along the front setback a brick screen wall would be installed. The ends of the screen wall would incorporate a decorative post assembly. The interior parking lot would be oriented from east to west with 90 degree parking spaces and landscaped islands. The lot would consist of 187 parking spaces.
An area between the retail stores and Color Tile could accommodate a potential development infill opportunity. If the potential plaza area opposite the primary entrance is not utilized, then an additional 40 parking spaces could be installed.
Plymouth Road / Middlebelt Road Intersection
The Plymouth Road/Middlebelt Road intersection is the highest volume intersection along the corridor and is the intersection identified by the Plymouth Road Development Authority as its highest priority for improvement. Middlebelt Road, like Plymouth Road is a regional arterial. It connects Flat Rock in Wayne County at its south terminus to Keego harbor in Oakland County.
The proposed design concept uses the Plymouth Road/Middlebelt Road intersection as a focal point within the corridor. Expanded right-of ways on the south side of Plymouth Road allow for the inclusion of landscaped plazas at the corners. This concept was carried to the north quadrants to develop the symmetrical design. Each of the corners would include raised planters, brick paving, landscaping, and pedestrian scale corridor lighting. The Woodland Mall Sign would be replaced with an externally, upright, ground sign embodied into the overall plaza design. Although the graphic denotes the retention of the dedicated right hand turn lane, the final design would show its removal. This portion of the project would involve the close coordination of the Wayne County Road Commission and the Michigan Department of Transportation.
The terrace along Plymouth Road and extending down Middlebelt Road would be improved with landscaping, street trees and corridor lighting. Traffic signal mast arms would be installed at the intersection containing traffic signals, directional signs, pedestrian crosswalk signals and street names. A design option also reviewed involved the construction of an intersection structure which would span the entire intersection. This structure, if installed, would accommodate traffic signals, directional signs, pedestrian crosswalk signals and street names.
Several of the private parking lots would be connected internally to reduce duplicative curb cuts and in several locations increase the availability of off-street parking. In addition, several of the parking lots abutting the front property line would be screened with a low level brick screen wall. This is show, for example, on the office building property east of the Livonia Tire and Service Center.
To complete improvements on private property it is recommended that the Plymouth Road Development Authority obtain easements from participating property owners.
Rosedale Commercial Area
The Rosedale Subdivision is an older, well maintained and stable residential area on the south side of Plymouth Road. Small commercial properties on shallow depth lots run along the frontage of Plymouth Road in this area. The corridor concept design includes Plymouth Road between Cranston and Berwick Streets.
This residential area is identified on Plymouth Road by the unique field stone pylons and wrought iron fences at each side street. The low scale, neighborhood quality of the commercial buildings reflects the residential character of the subdivision. Several of the commercial parking lots are directly accessible from the side street.
The proposed concept involves the use of residential street "restrictions" or the use of the roadway and associated right-of-way for "no-thru" vehicular traffic movements. In this case, the selected side streets within the commercial zone of the neighborhood would be closed to vehicular traffic and the property captured for use as off-street parking. To screen the parking from adjacent residential properties, the installation of a brick screen wall and landscaping would be employed. Northbound residential traffic would be diverted to an improved one-way alley system behind the commercial properties to access Plymouth Road via the next side street.
The commercial area along Plymouth Road would be improved with street trees and corridor lighting. Neighborhood identification signs would be installed within the right-of-way denoting the "Old Rosedale Gardens" and street names.
Plymouth Road / Milburn Intersection
Milburn Avenue currently enters Plymouth Road west and across the street from Sears Drive. The intersection is off center and skewed making turning movements difficult, resulting in two intersections within fifty feet of each other on Plymouth Road.
The City of Livonia, recognizing this situation, has commenced acquisition of property on the east side of Milburn Avenue. Once acquired, this property will be used to realign Milburn Avenue with Sear Drive creating a standard intersection. This realignment will create residual property where the former Milburn Avenue existed providing potential expansion for the Livonia Chrysler Plymouth Dealership.
The proposed concept also includes improvements along Plymouth Road including the installation of corridor lighting, trees and brick/iron screen walls. These improvements would be extended down Milburn Avenue to its connection with the existing pavement section
Several curb cuts would be removed on Plymouth Road increasing the size of landscaped terrace areas within the project area.
The enhancement and redevelopment of the Plymouth Road Corridor will be a long and complex process of commitments and participation by both the public and private sectors. A commitment on the part of the City of Livonia to work toward implementation of public improvements and to provide overall coordination of the Plymouth Road Development Authority District redevelopment efforts is essential. Likewise, a commitment on the part of the property owners and business people to improve their facilities in accordance with standards of consistency is essential.