TRAVERSE CITY — State officials kicked off the process to begin a community-focused redesign of traffic-clogged Division Street through Traverse City.
The Michigan Department of Transportation posted an advertisement this week that seeks qualified firms to study and redesign Division Street/U.S. 31 from Grandview Parkway to Fourteenth Street. The planning process would begin July 1 and the scope of services requires responding firms to consider community, environmental, and economic goals early in the process.
"This is a big deal," said Traverse City Mayor Michael Estes. "It's a little sooner than I thought, but that's a real good sign."
The study, known as a planning and environmental linkages project, would last through the end of 2015 and provide four alternatives to improve the thoroughfare, including a do-nothing option.
City and community officials have long sought changes to Division Street to slow traffic, improve safety, and provide better pedestrian crossings. A narrow right-of-way limits improvement options, so city commissioners obtained voter permission to use a strip of parkland along the west side of Division Street for expansion. Supporters at the time, including Estes, said a positive vote would encourage MDOT officials to do something with the street.
"This reinforces what we had thought all along," Estes said."If we cooperate with MDOT to a point that's reasonable they will address Division Street."
State officials confirmed study funding is in response to the city's efforts, but caution there is no money allocated for future phases and the project doesn't rank well in MDOT's conventional road construction priorities list. The analysis will provide cost estimates to give city and state officials a place to start as they search for other funding sources.
Rise Rasch, manager of the MDOT service center in Traverse City, said the study information won't go to waste, even if it takes a long time to fund the project.