The ‘South Campus Entrance’ That Thinks It Can, Thinks It Can…
We don’t build streets without storm-water consideration, why do we build them without providing access for people walking or who wish to ride a bicycle? _________ ~paraphrase of a comment by Julie Clark, TART Trails
NEEDED: Citizen support for a South Campus Drive built for people.
Providing for people continues to be a struggle in Traverse City on almost every street project. There’s always an excuse. Often there’s a promise, but there’s not a lot trust from the MyWHaT editorial board regarding those promises. At a certain point projects need to be rejected as not sufficiently ready when presented without solutions to implementing a complete project in one phase.
The latest conundrum is the South Campus Entrance that will connect Silver Lake Rd. to two pieces of parkland (including the historic barns), TBA/ISD, The Commons and the hospital. This project has a long and arduous history that we won’t get into here. Where the community is at now is the funding and building of an access corridor. Out of the public process, priorities were identified that the location, even with a road serving 5-6,000 vpd, remain a place for people to enjoy under their own power. It would be designed to allow for a safe, convenient and enjoyable sharing of the street. As it is now, the design isn’t perfect, but neither was the process. We shouldn’t be put in the position of fighting for last-minute design accommodations for all users.
More importantly, the amenities for active transportation aren’t even fully funded. In my opinion, that means the road isn’t ready for show-time. Certainly, within the City’s “Central Park” we can have the common-sense to get this right without the need for another 2, 5 or even 10 years of citizen energy being spent in watch-dogging that this project is complete.
City staff has provided options and now it’s in the hands of the proper bodies, first the Joint Recreational Authority and, ultimately, the city commission. It’s up to them to find a way to fully fund this project in one phase and that provides for everyone. The hundreds of citizens who have contributed to this process deserve a complete solution, not a list of excuses and promises. It’s also up to us, the citizens, to remind them that this important.
Mark your calendar for Tuesday’s (December 21st • 7PM) Joint Recreation Authority Board Meeting at the Government Center.
At this meeting, the JRAB will be reviewing pedestrian and bicycle options developed for Silver Dr. (a.k.a South Campus Entrance). In November, they voted to have staff find solutions and options for providing for people entering the area on foot or on wheels. Since then, engineering department has come up with design options and has reduced the costs. There are no bike lanes due to the decision to reduce street width to 20 ft. in hopes of influencing speeds. Some of you may choose to challenge that rationale, but there was a balancing of a plethora of considerations–some of which is acceptable at this point of the process.
The JRAB will be asked to approve the release of $132,000 remaining committed to the road. Or, another way to look at it is they have $132,000 committed to providing accessibility to the rec authority property? Depends on what mode they think deserves priority as to whether they release it now or later when the entire project is funded. Consider attending and/or sending in an email supporting a complete phase I.
Below is a list of bullet points distributed through TART Trails’ Complete Streets group that speaks to the importance of this project.
We are asking that you attend the meeting and speak to the importance of a complete street network for the following reasons:
- The public planning process that developed guiding principles for the Barns development included a strong focus on non-motorized access and establishing a sense of place upon entering.
- This stretch of non-motorized infrastructure is an important piece of a larger, regional trail system called the Buffalo Ridge Trail. This trail network will eventually connect the Boardman Lake Trail west across town to the Commons, West Traverse Middle School, the new YMCA, Great Wolf Lodge and countless residents in the adjacent neighborhoods.
- This is new infrastructure. Now is the time. We acknowledge and understand there are significant constraints – environmental and fiscal. The staff has been instructed that they have a budget to work with that does not account for any pedestrian and bicycle facilities for 1250 feet. We wouldn’t build a street without the storm drainage structure, why would we build it without the necessary pedestrian/bicycle structure. The City’s infrastructure policy states that sidewalks/bikeways should be a priority.
- Let’s ask the Joint Rec Board and City Commission to follow through on their planning efforts and adopted policies and prioritize the funding to accommodate the trail. The cost estimates generated for the project show a need for approximately $280,000 needed to complete a trail on the west side of the proposed Silver Dr. We need to urge the City to find the money now not later.
- The redevelopment of the Barns will provide a fantastic amenity for the community. With its very limited on-site parking as currently designed, it is intended to function as a venue that relies on alternative means of transportation. Think shuttle busses and satellite parking. Let’s make the investment successful by putting in the infrastructure that supports it – it’s a site for people. Put in the infrastructure that encourages people getting to the site, not cars driving by it.
The opportunity costs to getting this wrong are high.