Home > Announcement, Complete Streets, Cultural Movement, dangerous by design, Design the Details, Traffic Calming, Walking > Resident expresses the disconnect that is TC’s Division St.

Resident expresses the disconnect that is TC’s Division St.

Not the most comfortable place

Division Street remains an issue of interest in Traverse City, to say it nicely. Two months ago, the City Commission reengaged the topic by passing a resolution pledging a solution. Since then, there’s been a meeting between interested parties, the City, and MDOT aimed at finding ways to begin improving this stroad.

The results of that meeting will be presented at an upcoming study session at the City Commission–anticipated for April 23rd.

In the meantime, the concerns of residents and visitors (TW) for a more inhabitable, accessible and calmed street continue. Yesterday, a MyWHaT reader and city resident living on Division St. shared her message to the City Commission with me and with her permission I share with you:

Dear Commissioners:

I am writing to you today because of Division St. and 14th St. We moved onto Division last October to reduce our dependence on automobile transportation. Initially, we were surprised by the noise and the speed at which cars travel, but a few months down the line, and I have far greater concerns. (And we really appreciate the efforts made by the City and MDOT to limit noise – our old house no longer shakes!)

As a reporter, I’m now able to walk or bike to the majority of my interviews. The other day, I had an interview just a few blocks from my house at the new location of Kitchen Choreography. The trouble was, the business is located across the street, a four-lane highway. It took me several minutes to cross one way, and I was nearly hit by a speeding motorist. On the way home, I was more cautious and waited nearly eight minutes (at 6p) just to cross the street.

There’s some great coffee over at the Commons, the farmer’s market, wine, cheesecake, restaurants, our favorite bakery, friends, and hiking trails, but to get there puts our lives at risk. I would be working and shopping at the Commons nearly every day, if not for the division created by the aptly named highway. The same is true for 14th. I like to walk to my bank, and to friends’ homes who lives up a few streets from 14th, but again, the lack of pedestrian considerations on that corridor create a virtual barrier.

This week my dog was hit by a car on Division, trying to cross to our favorite park in the world. She was injured, but thankfully survived, though not without an expensive visit to the vet. I now have to consider giving her to another family for fear she will be killed on our street.

However, these reasons are not why I am writing to you today. I am writing because next fall, my child will be attending school at Greenspire (at the Commons). While we can drive, if needed, we would prefer to walk, and yet, I cannot imagine crossing that “street” every day. I live in fear nearly every day that my child or dog or someone else just trying to enjoy this beautiful place will get hurt by speeding motorist. A man was killed in front of our house in December.

Traffic is traveling too fast, and there are not enough safe opportunities for people to cross.

PLEASE move forward with plans to improve pedestrian safety on this road. A roundabout or whatever is needed that will slow traffic and create a safer route of travel. The runners, bikers, dogs, dog-walkers, parents, and children of our City will thank you.

~ Samantha, Division St. resident

Sending get well wishes to Samantha’s dog. Thank you for sharing your letter.

Watch out for more information on the upcoming meeting and, if so inspired, here is the contact information for Traverse City City Commissioners.

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April is a great time to consider a donation or to subscribe to a monthly contribution.

  1. April 6, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Amen Samantha. I have to cross Division to work at the commons and often spend 10 minutes (as long as the bike ride from my house) waiting for a gap in traffic.

    This is a scary, dangerous roadway that is outright hostile to non-motorized traffic and not very safe for motorized traffic either. Time for a solution!

  2. Matt
    April 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    I sent a similar letter a year ago saying the same thing. Only Mayor Bzdok even responded. I will forward it to Mayor Estes, it seems like he may actually care about this issue.

  3. Greg
    April 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    When I first read Samantha’s letter to the City Commissioners, I thought what a great bit of sarcastic writing, having Government fix problems we create our self. Then after further thought, could it be possible she is serious?

    The traffic on Division has been heavy forever and will continue to be heavy until the Environmentalists allow us to build a bypass around the South end of town. Did she not realize she was buying a house that sits on a US highway? She has a desire to visit the businesses on the old State Hospital grounds which is fine, but to complain to the City that walking there from her house is time consuming and not desirable, is laughable at best. If these businesses are important to you, buy a house on the West side of Division, problem solved.

    Then deciding to send her child to Greenspire School is great, but don’t whine about how you might have to drive to get there. These all seem to be issues she created when SHE chose where to live. Stand up people and be responsible for your own actions, don’t complain after you realize you might have made a mistake.

  4. April 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Traffic on Division St. is certainly heavy and will be for the foreseeable future, that I think we can all agree on. This is depsite any idea of a southern by-pass hope that continues to be held as a solution. The network could be improved around the region, including the keystone connection, but a by-pass is no solution.

    However, it is not by default that a street with 27,000 vpd needs to continue to be a danger as well as a drain on our tax-base. There are many busier streets in the world that aren’t such an eye-sore or difficult to simply cross. All the homes and businesses along the 1.2 mile portion of Division St. from 14th to Grandview will benefit by an improved, calmer and more accessible corridor and I think citizens have any number of reasons to request that the government who built the road stroad ameliorate its problems.

  5. April 9, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Wow Greg. Such a 21st century attitude towards a street that is wildly unsafe. If you can’t take the heat, stay away. Very Death Race 2000.

    Citizens have a right to ask that their government address matters of public safety. I cross this street every day via all kinds of transport, and the long wait to make a safe crossing and the numerous accidents I’ve seen over 2 years make it clear to me that the street as designed and utilized is a public menace.

    The City Commission didn’t pass that resolution that is linked to above for giggles.

    Thousands of people live and work and go to school on both sides of Division. There’s a major health complex, school administration center and massive multi-use development “over there” served by a totally inadequate transportation network. It’s the first street many of our visitors see. And people have been seriously injured and lost their lives.

  6. henrymorge
    April 10, 2012 at 6:34 am

    At one point, Vanderbilt visits with celebrated Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman, who created the “intersection heard around the world.” Monderman redesigned a congested four-way crossing in the city of Drachten by basically removing all of the traffic signs. The lack of signals created uncertainty and forced drivers to slow down, cooperate with one another, and watch out for bicyclists and pedestrians. It also allowed traffic to flow more smoothly. His animating idea was to put some of the “social world” into the “traffic world.” While talking with Vanderbilt, Monderman demonstrated the success of his concept by walking backward into the street­with his eyes closed.

  7. Don
    April 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I can’t agree more with Greg’s review of Samanatha, the impish reporter extraordinaire that moved to Division Street. No one “moves” and pays money to “live” on Division St.! It is a major high way. Yes Henry, it is and always will be. It is a Local, State and U.S. Highway and untill you take all those designations away, your fruit, eggs, milk and organic cheese of the day will continue to pass along it so you can have the wistful lives you lead.

    I think a lot of people on this and other new urbinist “complete streets” hippie subjects need to grow up and get real. Slowing traffic down and impeding it so you can joyfully stroll across a major road is silly and just plain amusing. The real solution has always been and always will be tunnels.

    On Division St., Grandview Parkway and the Miracle Mile of Munson to 5 mile. You all know it, but can’t get the tumble weed words out of your traffic calming weed parched mouths to say it.
    The money is there federally to make it happen. Why doesn’t the city planner and the little munchkin “complete streeters” plan something other than a city of canyons with buildings on the sidewalks and chasing people from our town in your roundabout ways?

  8. April 11, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Don, although I don’t agree with all of your assessments, thank you for contributing. Having a community discussion is valuable. I encourage more readers to chime in, but, and this is a reminder to all, please do keep it civil. Calling people who don’t share your opinion “munchkins” or other insults doesn’t add anything to legitimize arguments.

    For further review, please see the comments policy. Note, the adminstrators of this blog are under no obligation to approve comments.

  9. April 11, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    There’s nothing “hippie” about public safety, Don. Division has bordered a residential neighborhood for 100 plus years. It’s a traffic corridor that has become dramatically obsolete for the usage it receives. That obsolescence is endangering and outright killing people and it’s past time to deal with it.

    Other cities have figured out how to update their transportation plans to accommodate multi-modal transportation. They don’t do this to be hippies, they do this because it makes good economic and community sense.

  10. April 11, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    This issue is about more than safety, it’s about a public right to utilize public roadways. Our inability to cross the street safely without the investment of considerable time and effort, not to mention the dangers to people, pets, cyclists, and other motorists, is reflective of an underlying failure in urban planning. I would love to see a roundabout at 11th Street that would allow us to cross two lanes of traffic at a time – and in addition, enforcement of traffic speeds. Those who suggest motorists aren’t speeding along Division are welcome to sit on my porch for five minutes to gain a new perspective.

  11. Matt
    April 11, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    It’s hard to respond to Greg’s fatalistic reasoning and Don’s quote that “Slowing traffic down and impeding it so you can joyfully stroll across a major road is silly and just plain amusing. (Build tunnels)”. Granted, tunnels would be nice but considering the 3 million it would take to just cross under grandview for pedestrians, it doesn’t seem likely.

    This is a 1 mile stretch. How long does this stretch take to travel? 2-3 minutes? Would an extra minute of travel be worth it to create a better community (something Greg can’t wrap his head around). People move to traverse city because of many of the “hippie” qualities that exist- like being able to walk/ride safely and not pay $4/gallon to get around town. High density areas increase tax base (as Gary has written about) and these types of places exist because speeding vehicles aren’t causing disruption.

    Greg is right that a bypass is needed. One was needed to get into leelanau county (which will never happen since the powers that be decided to build West Senior High right on a logical road connection to gray rd). Hopefully, we can get better signage directing people around downtown to head east to acme.

    I won’t go on because it’s pretty apparent that we can improve division with minimal burden. Ok, back to my organic cheese.

  12. Will
    April 12, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    West Senior High will be closing soon, so hopefully that corridor will open up for the by-pass that was supposed to be.

    As for the rest of the comments here: Greg and Don have hit the nails on the head. tunnels are not as expensive as some might think and serve all the purposesnintended. The “highways” are multi-juristictional and it is laughable that the local planner has built a cave and crawled in it!

  13. Matt
    April 12, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    what is all this tunnel talk? april fools has passed. paint some new lines and add some trees and lower the speed limit 5mph and add a few police patrols, or drop a million dollars on a tunnel. hmmm

  14. April 12, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    I agree about the talk of tunnels and bridges. There are a lot of reasons for the City not to pursue this distraction from the goal of achieving a better performing corridor. A single inviting, universally accessible, and safe tunnel or a bridge in this area would run between $3-5 million, or even higher if supporters really wanted to make it an attraction. And, then where do you put it to get the most use?

    Safe Routes to School has an objective introduction to above or below grade options that signal to me that it isn’t worth the time considering it on Division St., even more so when there are other problems on Division that need addressing beyond getting across it.

  15. April 12, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Cheat sheet for considering bridges or tunnels for pedestrians. tunnel

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