Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Saturday

May 3, 2014

No easy answer to east-west traffic flow

TRAVERSE CITY — A months-long study of Grand Traverse region traffic projects a roughly 30 percent increase in congestion on a trio of municipal east-west thoroughfares in the next 20 years.

The Traverse City Area Transportation and Land Use Study Technical Committee modeled nine road projects that could alleviate east-west traffic congestion in and around Traverse City. Results of the committee’s study suggest there’s no easy fix to the area’s crowded roadways.

“There’s no silver bullet here,” TC-TALUS board member John Nelson said. “There’s no one option that’s going to solve our east-west problem. It’s going to be a combination of scenarios.”

Technical committee members approved the study’s finding in a memo that will go to the full TALUS board sometime this month. The memo outlines traffic congestion data from 2007 and projections for 2035. The projections suggest congestion on Traverse City’s three main east-west corridors — Grandview Parkway, Eighth Street and South Airport Road — will increase by more than 30 percent if no changes are made to local roads.

The projects modeled in the study alter the 2035 estimates to varying degrees. Garfield Township Supervisor and TALUS board member Chuck Korn said two models offers the best outcomes: widening Beitner Road to four lanes and building a Hartman and Hammond roads connection.

Korn said the Beitner Road improvement would require building new and costly crossings over the Boardman River’s natural path. Korn said a Hartman-Hammond connection is the better option.

“It comes down to a question of costs, costs in terms of money and costs in terms of environmental factors,” he said.

The Grand Traverse County Road Commission began studying a Hartman-Hammond bridge in the late 1990s to improve cross-town traffic and spur development. A contentious debate on the matter raged until late 2004 when the road commission shelved the project. Bridge funds were reauthorized in 2005 to pay for The Grand Vision land use and traffic study.

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