North Fifth Reconstruction Project

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Update: All roads and sidewalks impacted by the Fifth and Detroit construction project are open as of Friday, Dec. 21. Traffic and pedestrian travel on N. Fifth Avenue, Detroit Street, Catherine Street, and E. Kingsley Street have returned to pre-construction patterns.​

Construction was scheduled to be completed​ in November, however, due to unforeseen infrastructure challenges, adverse weather conditions, and a product quality issue, additional work will be necessary in the spring of 2019 to fully complete the project. ​

Free Saturday Parking to be Offered During 5th Ave.-Detroit St. Construction

​The City of Ann Arbor and the Downtown Development Authority are partnering on a large-scale street improvement. Beginning in mid March, North Fifth and Detroit Street, between Catherine and Kingsley, will be under construction, "paving the way" to an improved streetscape, inviting to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. 


The project includes roadway construction, underground utility upgrades, crosswalk improvements and reconfiguration, including a pedestrian crossing island, historic brick restoration, pedestrian-scale lighting replacements, sidewalk replacements and the addition of other pedestrian amenities. 

The comprehensive nature of this project will make it necessary for lane closures and temporary street closures throughout the duration of the project. To mitigate parking demand in the neighborhood, the DDA will offer free parking 7 a.m.-3 p.m. every Saturday (beginning March 24) during construction at the Ann/Ashley Parking Structure, two blocks away. 

The intersection of North Fifth and Detroit Street is home to celebrated features, including the Kerrytown Shops, the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market, Zingerman's, Community High School and the Old Fourth Ward Historic District. The goal of this project is to maintain the special character of the neighborhood, while also improving the safety and function of the sidewalks and streets. 

The City of Ann Arbor and the DDA thank residents and businesses in advance for their patience and cooperation as crews work to make these necessary improvements.


Pilot Study Outcome

Pilot Study Image.jpgIn late Fall 2016 the City & Downtown Develop Authority measured existing conditions and piloted two possible street designs to understand how well the street could function with;

  1. a single travel lane and buffered bike lane

  2. two lanes with mid-block bump-outs.

What we observed:

  • With a single lane, a higher number of vehicles slowed down and stopped for pedestrians within the crosswalk

  • With a single lane, more frequent traffic backups onto Beakes Street, which blocked pedestrian crosswalks

  • With two travel lanes and the midblock bumpouts, no significant increase in the number of vehicles slowed down and stopped for pedestrians within the crosswalk from existing conditions

Recommended Street Configuration

5th and Detroit Street Dimensions.jpgAs a result, the project team worked to find a solution  that could provide the pedestrian comfort and safety benefits observed in the pilot, while also providing vehicle capacity. The project team shaped a design (6MB PDF) that includes two travel lanes with a pedestrian refuge island and midblock crossings.

Anticipated benefits:

  • Slower vehicle speeds
  • Improved pedestrian visibility, comfort, and safety crossing two lanes
  • More sidewalk space for trees and pedestrian activity
  • Increased bike lane width to improve safety and comfort of cyclists
  • Increased clarity for drivers and traffic flow

Throughout February and March we are hosting stakeholder focus group meetings to refine additional design details. In the spring we will schedule a public meeting/meetings to present the design.

Lane change testing

The pilot test utilizes less expensive, temporary traffic controls, which do not reflect the aesthetics of any final design, but will allow us to verify our traffic modeling results and observe impacts on traffic. 

Fewer vehicular lanes could allow flexibility in the design to improve the pedestrian experience by reducing crosswalk lengths, improving accessibility, and enhancing the streetscape.

Throughout the pilot, the street will continue to provide parking and loading functions.  The parking on the west side of Fifth Ave will be maintained, and has been  shifted into the closed lane. 

North Fifth one lane testing layout.jpgOn North Fifth Ave, as traffic approaches the Kingsley intersection, the right lane will be required to turn right at Kingsley, and the left lane will act as a through-traffic/left turn lane.  South of Kingsley, the current right lane will be blocked at the intersection, and will be used as parking; the current parking area will be closed off.  Parking on the left side of the road will be maintained in its current location. 

At Detroit Street, traffic will function as it currently does, but the intersection will be narrowed utilizing construction barrels to represent the conceptual curb line.  The one lane test will continue to the south driveway of Community High School, where it will then return to its current two-lane configuration.

Bicycle traffic will continue to utilize the existing bike lane.  The pilot will test the implementation of a buffered bike lane in its current location, with a buffer provided by parked cars.  In the final design, additional permanent pavement markings would create a buffer to protect bicyclists from car doors.


Construction tentatively scheduled to begin Spring of 2018.

Estimated completion: TBA

Why is this project being done?

The DDA and City of Ann Arbor are beginning a large-scale street improvement on N. Fifth Avenue (from Kingsley to Ann Street) and Detroit Street (between Catherine and Kingsley).

The intersection of 5th and Detroit is home to many celebrated features, including the Old Fourth Ward Historic District, the Farmer's Market, Zingerman's, Community High, and Kerrytown Shops. Despite this, the brick streets are badly damaged, the crosswalks are inefficient, and the utilities need essential repairs. As a result, the DDA and City are partnering to make the necessary restorations.

Work to be done

The project will include:

  • Roadway reconstruction
  • Underground utility upgrades and replacement
  • Crosswalk improvements & reconfiguration
  • Historic brick street restoration
  • Pedestrian lighting improvements
  • Sidewalk replacements and pedestrian amenities

Our goal is to maintain the special character, while also improving the safety and function of the sidewalks, streets, and utilities. Public outreach will begin in late May/early June 2016, with a tentative construction start of Spring 2018.

N. 5th Project map.jpg

Possible impacts

  • Dust and noise 
  • Brief interruptions in water service as part of new water main connection
  • Possible road/lane closures


Contact Information

​Brian Slizewski, PE
City of Ann Arbor
734.794.6410 x43607

Maura Thomson
Communications Manager, 
​Ann Arbor Down​town Development Authority