The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the City of Albion are holding a public meeting on Wednesday, May 15th, to discuss the potential for reducing the number of lanes on M-199 (Austin Avenue) from four lanes to three lanes between 27 Mile Road and Superior Street.

MDOT representatives, Albion city representatives will be on hand to discuss the project with interested business owners as well as residents of Albion. The meeting will be held at the Ludington Center located at 101 North Superior Street in Albion from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

In 2020, MDOT will be resurfacing M-199 between I-94 and Michigan Avenue, and between 25 1/2 Mile Road (Starr Commonwealth Road) and Superior Street in Albion and Sheridan Township, Calhoun County. In addition to reducing M-199 from four lanes to three lanes, construction plans include sidewalk ramp upgrades.

So what is a "Road Diet"? According to Wikipedia, a road diet, also called a lane reduction or road rechannelization, is a technique in transportation planning whereby the number of travel lanes and/or effective width of the road is reduced in order to achieve systemic improvements.

Proponents of road diets generally believe key benefits include lower vehicular speeds, reduced crash rates, and improved pedestrian safety. Other benefits of road diets include promoting better land use, reducing induced traffic, promoting greater driving attentiveness, and promoting cycling through the addition of bicycle lanes. Providing dedicated left turn (in countries that drive on the right-hand side of the road) lanes at intersections can improve vehicular safety and can enable efficiency gains along the roadway.

Researchers have found that road diets can be expected to reduce overall crash frequency by 19% to 43%, with the higher crash reductions occurring in small urban areas than in metropolitan areas.