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April 28, 2014

Garland Street to connect to Union Street

TRAVERSE CITY — A project conceived in the last century and studied throughout the last decade could come to life after city commissioners approved an engineering contract.

But at least one local official questions certain aspects of that plan.

Construction could begin by fall to connect Garland Street in the downtown’s warehouse district to Union Street just south of the Traverse City Visitor Center. City officials want to hire Fleis & Vandenbrink Engineering to update existing designs to completely reconstruct the street.

Engineers also will create construction drawings to put out for bid and oversee construction.

Officials hope to begin construction this fall and complete the street in time for the opening of the new Hotel Indigo in May 2015.

“Planning has been going on since 2007, so it’s been a long time coming,” said Rob Bacigalupi, executive director of Traverse City’s Downtown Development Authority. “The goal, of course, is to better connect the warehouse district with the rest of downtown.”

But city Commissioner Barbara Budros objected to the contract because commissioners never took a vote on the street realignment.

“I would be more comfortable if the city commission would take a look at the options for Garland Street ... before we hire someone to design a street that we haven’t talked about if that’s where we want it to go,” Budros said.

Budros opposes the project because she said Garland Street will come out too close to Grandview Parkway and create a dangerous intersection. She also contends the design contract was premature because the city doesn’t have a contract with the Visitor Center to swap property.

The city proposed to convert a driveway and parking spaces owned by the Visitor Center into a two-way street in exchange for abandoning Garland Street where it turns north and connects to Grandview Parkway. The city will recreate the Visitor Center’s lost parking on the abandoned section of Garland Street and cover the cost of moving utilities.

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