Campus Planning

Update 2008: Master Plan Workshops

October 23-24

Update 2008

Topics of Discussion:
Roads, Parking and Wayfinding Issues

bullet How can visitors find the key destination locations on campus, such as Miller Auditorium and Read Fieldhouse?  How can visitors find parking?
The university has two methods for directing visitors on and to campus:  a road sign system and web-based interactive campus maps.  The interactive maps are found on

The road sign system is based on information tiers or rings.  The outermost ring directs you from off-campus to the campus itself, to one of the entrances on Stadium Drive or West Michigan Avenue.  Once on campus the visitor is directed along the ring road, which is lined with signs indicating the various destinations such as Miller Auditorium.  Following the signs will take the visitor to parking, and from parking the visitor should be able to see the destination, or should see signs directing them further.

Recently the university has improved the signage on the Ring Road, the series of perimeter roads on West Campus.  Visitors to campus destinations are given directions using the Ring Road as the point of reference.

bullet Some recent changes to roads and sidewalks on campus have resulted in pedestrians and the handicapped having to cross against or merge with service traffic.  Is something going to be done about this?
Every project has a plan to satisfy the needs of both pedestrians and vehicles, but there is always a “wait and see” period where the planners have to sit back and watch what happens, identify problems, look at possible remedies, and then start to make modifications.  Making changes too quickly often solves one problem only to cause several more.  Unlike planning the interior of a building, where walls and doors are used to limit circulation options, there is no foolproof way to predict or enforce the outdoor paths that people will use to get from here to there.  Ironically, use patterns often change from semester to semester. 

bullet Are there plans for other road projects?
bullet Are there plans for any other roundabouts on campus?  Why are the roundabout lanes so confusing?
There are several intersections on campus that are problematic and need improvements, such as the lighted intersection near the Bernhard Center and the four-way stop by the residence halls in Goldsworth Valley.  There are on-going discussions with the city to reconfigure the intersection at W. Michigan and Western Avenues.  There are no plans for another roundabout project at this time.

Many roundabouts do not have any lane lines when there are only single-lane feeder roads.  With or without lane lines, most drivers in this part of the country have little experience with roundabouts, and just need some time and experience to get comfortable with the concept.
Click for more tips on driving on roundabouts.

bullet Why was the west entrance roundabout installed in the first place?
Roundabouts are an excellent traffic solution when you want to keep traffic moving, prevent gridlock at left turns, and increase pedestrian safety – the opposite of which was present in spades in the original street configuration - a tangle that knotted four roads - W. Michigan, Rankin, Knollwood, and Buckhout - into three intersections and one dead end.
Click here for more information.

bullet Where and what is the Ring Road?
In general planning terms, “ring road” denotes a perimeter artery from which all main destination locations can be accessed regardless of the direction of travel.  While it is logical to think that the ring road must be circular, it will function well no matter what the shape as long as the ring road itself is clearly marked, and key destinations and parking are clearly identified and easily accessible from it.

At WMU, the Ring Road is the series of roads that form the perimeter of West Campus.  The concept was proposed and explained in the 1970 Campus Development Plan, a physical guide for organizing campus growth after the closing of W. Michigan Avenue between Western and Knollwood Avenues.   The Ring Road has been a work in progress ever since. 

Unfortunately, wayfinding remains difficult for visitors on campus.  The multiple road names are confusing, and there are several intersections where it is not clear what choice to take if the driver wants to continue around the campus perimeter.  New signs with a special Ring Road logo were installed on campus at the start of fall semester.  The highly visible signs, easily read by harried motorists, are intended to help direct people around the campus and prevent the wrong turns that have occurred so frequently in the past.
Click here for more information.

bullet Are there official bike paths on campus?  Is there a bike path out to the Parkview Campus?
Bicycles are considered vehicles, and riders on campus are expected to use the campus roads in most instances.  The Master Plan Technical Report includes recommendations for creating bicycle paths and zones, and promoting bicycle use as an alternative form of transportation.

A portion of the Kalamazoo Non-Motorized Vehicle Trail is on the main campus between Lovell and Howard Streets, roughly parallel to Stadium Drive, identifiable by the black fencing that lines it.  The Non-Motorized Trail continues along Stadium Drive as an asphalt path.  Riders can then follow the bike lanes on Drake Road to get to the Parkview Campus.

bullet Can you describe this summer’s changes to Oliver Street and Ottawa on the Oakland Drive Campus?
The Oliver Street road reconfiguration was undertaken to improve the overall circulation between West and Oakland Drive Campuses, and improve the visual and physical connections between campuses.  A secondary benefit of the project was to reduce or eliminate use of the original Oliver Street/Oakland Drive intersection, which was identified in every Master Plan Focus Group as dangerous.  The new Oliver Street curves through a former parking lot, merges with a short stretch of one of the hospital roads and ends at the Oakland Drive/Wheaton Avenue intersection.  The old Oliver Street connection to Oakland Drive has been renamed Oliver Lane.
Click here for more information.

bullet There should be more kiosks with campus maps at all perimeter parking areas, especially ones that can be seen without leaving the car.
Two campus map kiosks were installed fall 2007, one near the tent plaza and one near the Administration Building in the area known as the Michigan Mall.  The intent for these particular kiosks was to help visitors find their way in the campus pedestrian core.  A campus-wide system of information kiosks that will make the university more welcoming and accessible is definitely in the long-term plans.  However, there is no project for this at present.

bullet The parking lots on the west side of campus rarely have many cars in them.  Are there other plans for this space?
Parking needs fluctuate depending on time of year, but in general there is less demand for parking on the West Campus because so many students now attend classes on the Oakland Drive or Parkview Campuses.  The university is looking at some of the perimeter parking areas as locations for new campus housing, which would distribute housing locations as recommended by the Fundamental Concepts.

bullet What are plans for parking and vehicle traffic by Bernhard Center, Sangren Hall, Michigan Mall?
The Michigan Mall is the long corridor between Haenicke Hall and the Bernhard Center that forty years ago was an active city street.  The long-term plans are to continue converting it to pedestrian use, gradually eliminating all traffic except for handicapped, emergency, or service vehicles.  The Sangren Hall renovation project will provide another opportunity to improve the pedestrian nature of the Mall, as did the Chemistry Building construction project a few years ago, when most of the parking between Kanley Chapel and Sangren Hall was removed.


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Western Michigan University
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Kalamazoo MI 49008 USA
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