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Streets Should Connect, Not DividePrint

Thriving Communities | October 4, 2012 | By James Bruckbauer

Speeding cars on Division Street have buried the city’s character, safety, and sense of place, and the street separates families from our trails, businesses, our hospital, and the growing neighborhood on our city's west side. 

On November 6, Traverse City voters will have a chance to take a crucial next step on one of the most important transportation challenges facing our city: Division Street.

Almost everyone who lives here agrees: Division Street needs to get better. Its speeding cars have buried the city’s character, safety, and sense of place.  Its intersections are the most dangerous of any other street in town. And it separates families from our trails, businesses, our hospital, and the growing neighborhood on our city’s west side.

Recognizing this, Traverse City commissioners made a commitment last spring to make the road safer, starting with some short-term, lower-cost solutions like speed radar signs and better sidewalks.

At the same time, they pledged to jump-start the long-term planning and design process for changes that could dramatically improve traffic flow, make the street safer for families, and reconnect our city’s east and west side.

To begin the long-term process, though, Traverse City voters first need to assure the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the agency that manages the road, that they’re not wasting valuable time and resources if they start planning and reviewing options for making big improvements.

So on November 6, Traverse City voters will be asked if they would allow MDOT to include less than two acres of city-owned land when they propose any new road designs.

Even though the ballot question makes it sound like we’re “disposing of parkland” on the spot, don’t worry. When you vote “yes,” you won’t be giving up one inch of parkland. This only starts the process and only makes the land available for planning. It will take many years, many studies, many tests, and many, many public forums, before any new plans or designs are proposed. Not only that, future commissioners will have to approve any proposed design.

This is simply the next step in a long-term process that could start one of the most effective community-driven planning processes to date. What's even better is that this step won't cost taxpayers a dime.

And throughout the process, you’re voice will be heard. The state recently adopted a “complete streets” policy that says that the transportation agency must make sure they’re getting lots of input from citizens.

I believe that this community can work collaboratively with the Michigan Department of Transportation to design a street that meets the community’s values and goals.

I believe that we can design a road that increases the flow of traffic and at the same time can become safer for people to cross.

If we reject this proposal, we delay significant improvements to Division for many more years.

Therefore I encourage you to vote yes for a safer Division Street.