By Matt Skeels
---- — After hearing from City of Traverse City officials, Division Street Steering Committee members and the Michigan Department of Transportation, the board of the Traverse City Area Transportation And Land Use Study (TC-TALUS) voted to support the City's ballot proposal regarding Division Street.
The Steering Committee's objective is to change the character of Division Street to create a city street that is:
n Safer for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians to share, travel along, and to cross;n Better fits the context of the city and its neighborhoods;n Unites the east and west sides of the street, and;n Creates the environment and driver behavior to ensure that traffic speeds will be reduced to 30 mph. This must be a demonstrable requirement.
In our discussions with MDOT officials, they have stated that they simply cannot afford to spend scarce resources to begin the necessary environmental reviews and design process until they are assured there is at least a chance to purchase property needed to meet the needs of the Traverse City area in the redesign of the road.
Additional property will very likely be needed for any type of fix to Division Street.
It seems as though the overwhelming majority of people agree that something needs to be done with Division Street. However, "the devil is in the details," and plans for the redesigned road do not exist at this time. Therefore people don't know what they are voting for and may not want to leave it up to city and MDOT officials.
In our many dealings with MDOT, they have demonstrated that they are willing to deal with difficult problems to come up with acceptable solutions, so let's work with them to see what we can come up with. The worst case is that we can't come up with an acceptable solution and nothing changes; the best case is something great happens that both Traverse City and MDOT can be proud of for years to come.
So it boils down to this: vote no and Division Street will remain as is for years to come. Vote yes and Traverse City and MDOT can take the next step towards solving Division Streets problems together.
If voters approval the ballot question, the city commission assumes authority to transfer the property to MDOT, though such a move isn't required. A future city commission will make that call after members review MDOT's design plans.
About the author: Matt Skeels is Coordinator of TC-TALUS, the Traverse City Area Transportation And Land Use Study
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