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Five Ways to Beat Traffic in TC: Improve Grandview Parkway

Focus on crossings and calming traffic

Local Motion | December 20, 2013 | By James Bruckbauer

About the Author

James Bruckbauer is the Michigan Land Use Institute’s transportation policy specialist. Follow him on Twitter at @jimbruckb. Reach him at james@mlui.org.

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Crossings like this could help pedestrians cross Grandview without a major impact on traffic flow.

In 1953, the Michigan Department of Transportation opened Grandview Parkway to move traffic and trucks away from downtown Traverse City, and better connect Leelanau County with communities east of Traverse City.

Before the road, the area along the water was an industrial area filled with logging operations and the related infrastructure like railroads and shipping docks.

Not anymore. Instead of logging companies, the area is now filled with open space, festivals, recreation and people. But Grandview Parkway itself, with roughly 30,000 speeding cars a day and just a few pedestrian crossings, is a barrier for those who want to walk between downtown and the bay.

On a walking tour last summer, transportation expert Jeffery Tumlin said crosswalks with traffic signals in a few areas would actually improve traffic flow and make it safer for pedestrians to cross.

Here are a few ways to improve flow so the parkway can better handle traffic and, at the same time, become safer for those who want to cross between downtown and the lake.

In the short term, the Michigan Transportation Department of Transportation and the City of Traverse City can work together to:

·      Replace the tall highway-style overhead lights with lower, pedestrian-scale lamps, that give motorists the impression that pedestrians are likely in the area;

·      Add street trees along road and more landscaping in medians to calm traffic;

·      Upgrade existing crosswalks and add crosswalks with signals where appropriate;

·      And, of course, better promote the existing transit connection. The Bay Area Transportation Authority launched a new bus route last year that connects the Acme/Williamsburg area to downtown Traverse City.

There is also a lot of good information and recommendations worth checking out in two recent studies: The 2007 report, Your Bay, Your Say, and the 2006 report titled Across Grandview Parkway.

Improving Grandview Parkway is just one piece of a broad set of strategies to reduce congestion in the Traverse City area. Other strategies include improving Division and S. Airport Roads, upgrading Keystone and Beitner roads, and making it easier for people to get around without a car.

James Bruckbauer is the Michigan Land Use Institute’s transportation policy specialist. Follow him on Twitter at @jimbruckb. Reach him at james@mlui.org.


3801 days ago, 8:05am | by Eric Winkelman | Report Comment

In Leelanau County during 2013, I have noticed an increased presence of BATA.

The Grandview parkway enhanced and increase cross walk opportunities is a good idea.

As to US 31 between the Bay and 14th Street, improved and safer left turn opportunities would help that situation. Of course available and current right of way considerations will determine the possibilities as to improvements.

But let's face it, over the last 2.5 years the Traverse City area has been noticed and the tourists along with retirees are responding to the area in an increasing numbers,
that of course stresses current infrastructure, in some areas to the maximum during the summer and especially during Cherry Festival.

If not already in progress, a comprehensive traffic management plan needs to be put into place relying in part on outside traffic planning and management experts, and then visiting locations where those solutions have already been implemented to see if the would work in TC

3782 days ago, 6:21pm | by Fred Cepela | Report Comment

Has a longer left turn signal for Grandview onto Division been considered?

3771 days ago, 2:27pm | by Jonathan Pool | Report Comment

James, I want to give a favorable comment for the crosswalk shown above, a crosswalk away from intersections designed so pedestrians only have to worry about traffic in one direction at one time.

I spend a lot of time in Colorado and both Boulder and Fort Collins have similar (although less elaborate) crosswalks on major roads of up to 8 lanes. The key components are the location away from intersections and the center island where pedestrians can change their focus from traffic in one direction to the other. They have pushbuttons for many, but not all of the crosswalks which activate a flashing signal for the pedestrian which stops traffic.

I won't cross Grandview parkway at Division with my kids. There I'm dependent on cars obeying the signal, and my ability to process traffic from three or more directions at once. We cross west of West End Beach. We can cross the eastbound lanes to the grass median, then comfortably wait for traffic to clear on the westbound lanes.

3771 days ago, 9:52pm | by James Bruckbauer | Report Comment

Thanks for the comment! I cross Grandview down by West End Beach, too. I like you can cross one lane at a time.

I think we'll see MDOT and City come together around new crossing ideas for Division St. Those could include mid-block crossings like these, "pedestrian activated signals" like what you mentioned, and a boulevard so pedestrians have a safe place between crossing traffic.


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