Napier Ave. Pedestrian & Bicycle Plan to Present and Demonstrate Recommendations

Recommendations from the Napier Avenue Pedestrian & Bicycle Plan will be presented at a
public meeting on September 24, 2018. The event will feature a demonstration of potential future
improvements to non-motorized connectivity along the corridor.
September 13, 2018 – A draft of the Napier Avenue Pedestrian & Bicycle Plan final report is
now complete and contains a series of recommended improvements to enhance non-motorized
connectivity along the auto-oriented Napier Avenue, between the St. Joseph River and I-94.
The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission (SWMPC) will reveal draft recommendations at
a Public Open House Meeting on Monday, September 24 from 4 pm – 6 pm at Napier
Parkview Baptist Church, located at 245 W. Napier Ave. Members of the public will be able to
review a draft of the Plan, view exhibits illustrating potential future improvements, and take a
tour of a demonstration showing how and where sidewalks and other improvements could be
located (weather permitting).
The Plan recommends a number of ways for Napier Avenue to transform to a more “complete”
street that safely accommodates all users and modes of transportation. SWMPC has been
working with St. Joseph Charter Township, Benton Charter Township, Berrien County Road
Department, and several other local partners since late 2017 to take a step back and reimagine
what Napier Avenue could look like in the future. Recommendations of the Plan were evaluated
based on several factors, including projected costs, maintenance needs, traffic and safety
impacts, and input received from the public. The Plan also identifies potential funding sources
local organizations may take advantage of in order to help defray costs.
The Plan recommends western segments of the corridor between the Lakeland Medical Center
and Union Avenue to be rebalanced by converting the current four-lane road configuration into
three lanes, including a center left-turn lane and bike lanes on each side of the road. Outside of
the roadway, sidewalks would be constructed with a grassy planting strip (where possible) to
buffer pedestrians from moving traffic. The eastern segments of the corridor from Union Avenue
to I-94 would be outfitted with a sidewalk on one side of the road and eventually a ten-foot wide
shared multi-use pathway on the opposing side of the road during later construction phases. The
multi-use pathway would allow for bicycles, pedestrians, and other non-motorized forms of
travel to be grade-separated from vehicle travel lanes.
More information on the project and a draft of the final report may be found at
About SWMPC. The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission (SWMPC) is one of fourteen
state recognized regional planning governmental non-profit organizations in Michigan. The
organization was enabled by state legislation (the Regional Planning Act, 1945 PA 281) and
formally created in 1971 by the three counties it serves, Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren. SWMPC
is a regional planning resource staffed with professional regional planners and is designed to be
responsive to the planning needs of our region. SWMPC is the USDOT and MDOT recognized
Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Twin Cities (Benton Harbor-St. Joseph) and the
Niles-Buchanan-Cass County Area Transportation Studies, as well as the rural and small urban
transportation Regional Planning Agency for Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties. SWMPC
is the state designated area-wide water quality management planning agency under the Clean
Water Act, and the SWMPC leads and participates in watershed management planning. SWMPC
is the EDA designated Economic Development District for those same three counties.
Vision: Planning great communities together.
Mission Statement: Our team uses its passion and expertise to connect people, assist
communities, and advance cooperative solutions to regional challenges experienced by the
communities that created us.

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