Join Renew Donate Gift It
Site Search Show Navigation

Five Ways to Beat Traffic in TC: Upgrade Keystone and Beitner RoadsPrint

Thriving Communities | January 30, 2014 | By James Bruckbauer

Traverse City has a bypass that could help travelers and delivery trucks skip busy in-town roads.

There’s a way for many summer travelers and busy delivery trucks to bypass Traverse City if they want to avoid the area’s busiest roads like Division, Grandview Parkway, and S. Airport Road. It’s a bypass that connects Chums Corner with the east side of Traverse City using Keystone and Beitner Roads.  

But, right now it’s two-lane road with steep slopes and very small bridges over the Boardman River, which don’t meet today’s standards for handling lots of traffic and heavy trucks. In order to carry more traffic, including large trucks, the road must be widened and the slopes must be reconstructed so that they’re less steep.

Could it replace Division and Grandview Parkway as the region’s “state trunkline?” and divert heavy traffic out of the city? That’s probably not happening anytime soon, according to MDOT.

MDOT staff has assured me that moving state highways is a highly complex process, requires a tremendous amount of public process, and thorough analysis. Plus, the recent funding announcement for a Division Street study reflects MDOT’s clear commitment to keeping the highway in town.

So, for now, the responsibility for upgrading the road lies at the local level with the Grand Traverse County Road Commission, who, in 2009 began working on the Keystone and Beitner bypass by connecting Keystone Road with Hammond Road.

Right now, the region’s transportation planning body, TC-TALUS, is creating regional transportation plan that includes a focused cost/benefit review of east-west options, including upgrades to Beitner.  Their analysis and recommendation will help the road commission decide if continuing the project is an effort worth pursing.

We think it is. Upgrading Keystone and Bietner Roads is a sensible way to provide some short-term relief to some of the heavy traffic along S. Airport and Grandview Parkway, without building a new expensive bridge across the Boardman River.

And it’s just one part of a set of strategies to reduce congestion in the Traverse City area, including improving DivisionGrandview Parkway, and South Airport roads, and managing the demand for driving

James Bruckbauer is the Michigan Land Use Institute’s transportation policy specialist. Follow him on Twitter at @jimbruckb. Reach him at james@mlui.org.