Traverse City Record-Eagle

Our Views

May 2, 2014

Editorial: City must find, act on Eighth Street options

"Armpit” may be a bit strong, but there’s simply no denying that Eighth Street between Woodmere and Boardman avenues is a mess. In truth, there’s not a lot to be said about the street east of Woodmere and west of Boardman, for that matter.

This is hardly news to anyone who even occasionally travels Eighth. To those who live or work near the street or use it as part of a regular commute, the condition of the road — corrugated surface, stop-and-go traffic, sudden stops and backups for motorists turning left — makes it a dangerous nightmare.

More than 90 local residents and business owners have petitioned the city to re-stripe the street between Boardman and Woomere to reduce it from four lanes to two with a middle left-turn lane. A major aim is to slow traffic, which often zips along at 40 mph in a 25-mph zone.

Mike Coco, who with fellow Boardman Neighborhood resident Bob Otwell led the petition drive, said Eighth doesn’t serve residents or businesses.

In urban planning terms that makes it a failure. And that means something has to be done about it.

What that is and when it may happen remain the big questions.

There’s more to worry about here beyond the very real concerns of residents and business owners. Eighth is one of just three east-west corridors in a city bounded by water.

To the far south, the Boardman River limits east-west traffic. Boardman Lake and the west arm of Grand Traverse Bay squeeze downtown to just four blocks. Eighth cannot be a barrier.

Coco said petitioners are not “wed” to the three-lane proposal, but they do want the city to try it or another option contained in a corridor improvement plan .There has also been talk of keeping two west-bound lanes and one east-bound lane with a median and left-hand turn lanes.

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