If you've been downtown Grand Rapids the past few years, you've noticed something different about the traffic signals...

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Since the summer of 2020, traffic lights downtown have been blinking red, creating all-way stops at intersections.

What's Going On With the Blinking Red Lights Downtown Grand Rapids?

As less people were downtown during the pandemic, the City of Grand Rapids Mobile GR Department put six intersections in downtown into all-way stop “flash” mode - they say it was a pilot to "test the impact on safety, walkability and traffic flow."

  • Ottawa Ave. NW and Fountain St. NW
  • Ottawa Ave. NW and Monroe Center St. NW
  • Ottawa Ave. NW and Louis St. NW
  • Ionia Ave. NW and Fountain St. NW
  • Ionia Ave. NW and Monroe Center St. NW
  • Ionia Ave. NW and Louis St. NW
Intersection of Ottawa Ave. and Louis downtown Grand Rapids
Intersection of Ottawa Ave. and Louis downtown Grand Rapids

The City of Grand Rapids says,

This was done in response to reduced vehicle traffic in the downtown area at the time and the desire to prioritize pedestrians at downtown intersections.

Well, that "test" period has ended.

Downtown Grand Rapids Traffic Signals to be Reactivated Week of Dec. 12

Traffic signals will return to "normal" downtown Grand Rapids the week of Dec. 12, 2022.

City officials say that at that time new traffic signal timing will be set "to reduce wait times for pedestrian crossings while still allowing vehicles to move efficiently through these downtown intersections."

Why is Grand Rapids Reactivating Traffic Lights Downtown?

Simply put, people are coming downtown Grand Rapids again. Attendance at concerts, sporting events, and other happenings downtown has definitely increased since the summer of 2020.

The Mobile GR Department says that as vehicle volumes returned, the all-way stop controls "provided inconsistent improvement for pedestrians, and in some cases, introduced new challenges for pedestrians and vehicles at these intersections – particularly during major arena events."

And it sounds like the City got some less than positive feedback about the blinking red lights...

Josh Naramore, Mobile GR director, said,

“That, combined with mixed reviews from the public, has led us to the decision to reactivate the traffic signals at these six locations to maintain clear direction for all users while maintaining the walkability in downtown.”

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