Will Silver Line-only lanes slow Division traffic?


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Will the implementation of dedicated lanes for metro Grand Rapids’ new rapid transit bus service cause traffic snarls on Division Avenue? Target 8 drove the route and clocked the trips to find out.

From 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, the outside lanes of some stretches of Division and Monroe avenues will be reserved for the new Silver Line. People driving in those lanes during restricted hours face a fine and points on their license.silver line buses right lane sign 081314

The idea is to keep the buses moving, but many are worried the dedicated lanes will slow down traffic for the average driver.

To find out whether drivers will be affected, Target 8 drove Division between 44th and Wealthy streets on Aug. 13 before the Silver Line started running and again on Aug. 25, its first day.

In both cases, the trip from 44th to Wealthy took 12 minutes. The bus-only lanes made no difference.

Traffic on both days was heavier during the evening than the morning. Still, both trips out of the city — from Wealthy to 44th — took 13 minutes. The dedicated bus lanes — which drivers were for the most part obeying Monday — again had no effect.

Target 8’s findings didn’t surprise the people who planned the Silver Line lanes.

“There were actually two traffic modeling studies done over the course of the project development and they showed everything would go smoothly even with the dedicated lanes,” Jennifer Kalchuk, a spokesperson for The Rapid, said.

Target 8’s test wasn’t scientific — that would have required more time and probably instruments more sophisticated than the clock on an iPhone. But it does provide some indication that the Silver Line bus lanes won’t be slowing traffic on Division.

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