Last night’s Division St. snooze coverage: IPR gets into the local road action (where were they for 8th Street?), the Record Eagle noticed the broad support for the roundabout plan and 7&4′s value? It’s all in the public commentary (people hear what they want to hear…or simply don’t listen). PlanforTC’s facebook page is another source of interesting commentary.
The PPT presentation from the consultants is also now public.
What’s there to say? It looks like Division Street will remain a blight on the city for the foreseeable future. To blame is poor leadership & lack of direction. From the vantage point of this arm-chair quarterback, it’s just hard to see anyone in a position of influence willing to step-up and make a decision.
Whose role is it to cut-through the clutter and make a proposal? The city manager? City staff? City commission? Some sort of coalition of power brokers in the city?
Nobody wants to take ownership. The lack of direction was evident last night as the proposals from URS lacked clarity and a strong recommendation.
The evening started with a proposed boulevard from 8 1/2 Street south to 14th street. This despite that a BLVD wasn’t mentioned at the March 17th public forum and was left on the floor during the charrette. Important elements in this concept are Michigan lefts, wider footprint through the corridor, and dual left turn lanes at 14th Street.
Although a BLVD would be slightly easier to cross on foot (refuge island in the middle), none of the additions are a solution to addressing speeds, noise & vibrations, or the remaining half of the corridor going north to the bay.
A boulevard along Division St. is an expensive half measure aimed at presenting an option to city commissioners lacking interest in the subject and as something that is ‘understood‘ by the public.
It’s seen as ‘doable‘ even though it solves little.
Roundabouts are a Local Solution
City staff & commissioners should have been more involved in the design charrettes and public forums for Division St and Grandview Parkway. As a result, the $50,000 +/- spent to obtain a corridor wide plan may be wasted due to uninformed, reactive decision makers.
The process worked as needed under the city’s adopted context sensitive solution design principles. Primary to this approach is active involvement of stakeholders to identify community needs & solutions. At the table for Division St. were over two dozen groups representing a diverse set of interests. To lead the process URS hired one of the top engineers in the country, Ian Lockwood, whose specialty is corridors just like Division St.
Out of that public and participatory process, a concept of a series of roundabouts (PDF) was proposed.
While improving flow and reducing congestion, the roundabout solution calms traffic, evenly improves accessibility for all users, reduces long-term costs, enhances the sense of place and reduces the opportunity for fatal crashes by a substantial amount. It’s short of a desired road diet and complete street, but it’s something that is livable.
An elegant comprise out of a well led public process.
Unfortunately, some of the decision makers in this city like to conveniently ignore informed public process & real data. Knee-jerk reactions to change are not new or specific to Traverse City. Also not unique to Traverse City is a reluctance to make bold moves.
I will continue to argue that we had better get over this reluctant hump or we will quickly lose our golden child status in the state of Michigan. We will be left with somewhat walkable sections of town isolated from one another and no sense of equity in how we are spending tax dollars. I’m all for amping-up the pressure…but where?
Who is in charge?
How do we get over this hump of half-measures and turn a plan into action?
To be continued….
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