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Kalamazoo gets $12M grant to help reconstruct downtown streets for two-way travel

KALAMAZOO, MI -- The city of Kalamazoo has been awarded over $12 million in federal grant money toward a project to reconfigure and rebuild major one-way streets downtown as two-way routes.

The $12,272,799 grant award was announced Friday, Feb. 17, Traffic Engineer Dennis Randolph told MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette.

The grant will be specifically for construction to convert Michigan Avenue and Kalamazoo Avenue, both currently one-way streets, to two-way routes, and to build other traffic calming measures and pedestrian features, Randolph said.

The Fiscal Year 2022 Reconnecting Communities Pilot Awards grant is from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Secretary of Transportation.

It represents a crucial piece of funding that the city will use to pay a substantial portion of the project, which has been estimated to cost $30 million or more, and also includes the conversions of Lovell Street and South Street and some additional work.

“This was a very important part of the funds needed for our work, we did not know when an official announcement would be made,” Randolph said.

“We appreciate all the support letters and are looking forward to bringing this project to completion, it will be great for safety and great for downtown,” he said.

The grant award says the project will upgrade Kalamazoo Avenue and Michigan Avenue with traffic calming measures and pedestrian, bicycle, and transit improvements.

The city will also use about $1 million from Jurisdictional Transfer funds received from the Michigan Department of Transportation, $9.7M in federal funding through Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study, and about $2 million budgeted for city bonds for this work, Randolph said.

Randolph, while speaking with MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette in the early afternoon Friday on a related topic, said the grant funding announcement was expected “any time now.” He was notified of the award hours later by the office of U.S. Senator Gary Peters.

“This project will help address the consequences of redlining and boost economic opportunity in Kalamazoo – while increasing safety, mobility and community connectivity,” Senator Peters said in a statement. “I’m proud to have helped pass the bipartisan infrastructure law that made this funding a reality.”

Peters said he advocated for the project to the Department of Transportation.