Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

May 9, 2014

Editorial: City must make MDOT Division St. study work

If half the ideas for fixing Traverse City’s Division Street had been given half a chance, we probably wouldn’t have a problem today. But they haven’t, and we do.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is about to try again. MDOT is seeking firms to study and redesign Division Street/U.S. 31 from Grandview Parkway south to 14th Street.

The planning process is to begin July 1 and last through 2015. The call for bids requires firms to consider community, environmental, and economic goals early in the process.

Given the community’s past inability to decide what Division should be, creating a consensus will be the central issue. Finding a plan we can afford will be another issue for another time.

Deciding how Division should work is no small issue.

Commuters want an unobstructed route through town. Those who live and work off Division want to be able to turn onto and off the street without risking their lives. West-side residents want to safely walk and bike along the four-lane street — much of which has no sidewalks — and cross safely. Right now, the thing Division does best is live up to its name. It is a real barrier to east-west commerce, figuratively and physically.

There is more reason than ever to break down that barrier.

Munson Medical Center, the region’s largest employer, is located just a couple blocks west of Division and it’s continuing to grow. The hospital just recently broke ground for the Cowell Family Cancer Center, a $45 million complex off Munson’s main campus that is due to open in the spring of 2016

Just south of Munson is the Grand Traverse Commons, the former state mental hospital that is undergoing an amazing transformation into a regional retail/residential/commercial center that is already home to businesses that employ hundreds. Hundreds more will soon live there in new senor and low-cost housing.

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