Police: Construction at intersection causes walkers to be between 4th and 5th sidewalks

-Police have issued a warning that pedestrians in Detroit should watch out for construction that’s putting up scaffolding at the intersection of West Grand Blvd. and McNichols Road in one of the city’s most unsafe areas, right near one of its busiest schools.

Scaffolding there can obscure the number 2 and 3 sidewalks, leaving pedestrians on the 4th sidewalk to walk in the middle of the street. When pedestrians try to cross the street, they’re forced to back up to the median because a guardrail separates them from the traffic lanes.

“The sidewalk is 100 percent blocked because of the barricades on the sidewalk,” Metro Health spokesperson Emily Rijos said.

“I started seeing some pedestrians getting caught in the guardrail as they were crossing Grand. It’s unfortunate because they end up being in the middle of the intersection,” she added.

She said Metro Health is working with the city to get the construction done, and police are warning people not to cross the street in front of the barricades.

Jessica Hanks is the president of the Right of Way Foundation, an organization that advocates for pedestrian safety. She said projects like this don’t take into account the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

“Pedestrians on busy city streets — they get out of their cars and they risk their lives to walk on the median,” Hanks said. “Pedestrians have to cross at the median because they’re having a hard time crossing the street when there’s construction everywhere else on the street. And there’s no way a vehicle can negotiate around that median. And with the light timing, cars have to go very fast to get into the crosswalk.”

Hanks said the City of Detroit and the state need to take a proactive approach to make the area safer.

“It’s not about how fast you can drive or how far you can drive or how wide of an intersection you can put a new stop sign. It’s about people. It’s about how we make streets safer for people every day,” she said.

Sean Fraser, the principal at Kenston Elementary School, said he understands how these conditions can impact walkers and bicyclists, especially when he walks around the area with his daughter.

“I always know to slow down in that area,” he said. “Those sidewalks are very narrow, and what happens is everybody’s trying to cross on the west side of the street, and all of a sudden there’s construction on the east side. Sometimes that’s impossible for everybody to cross, so everybody, for that short period of time, becomes stuck.”

However, Fraser said this construction will eventually be done. He said that when it is, he’ll talk to his students about the dangers of crossing busy streets when construction isn’t going on.

“We’ll educate our students about the dangers of not only working on their own property, but what they’re going to be walking on when it’s not fully completed. But the bottom line is you have to get out and you have to do something to get to school.”

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