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Planning commission to evaluate 2011 street projects

Traverse City planning commission meeting • Tonight, Wednesday Aug. 4, 2010 at 7PM in commission chambers, 2nd floor in the Governmental Center. Agenda (PDF)


Barlow and Centre St., looking south.

Barlow Street example

Barlow St. is a 2011 poster child for incomplete streets. It’s currently designed primarily  for automobile use despite a concentration of car-less residents living on and traveling through this part of town. It demonstrates a handful of head-scratching designs like adjacent sidewalks to nowhere, no sidewalks where social trails exist, narrow shoulders that are dangerous to walk and lack of any communication that people belong. It’s not the only incomplete street in the city, but it is a very telling example.

It’s confounding that this project was first conceived without people on foot in mind. This type of improvement shouldn’t even be up for debate. It was the planning commission that asked for it to be delayed (originally slated for 2010) and reconsidered as a more complete street.

2011 Street projects

It’s not the best time of the year to attend public meetings, but tonight’s Traverse City planning commission meeting may prove instructive. For the first time in most people’s memory, this volunteer board will be reviewing & advising staff, as well as the city commission, on how the following year’s planned street projects fulfill or fail to fulfill the master plan. They reviewed the 2010 street projects, but only after the 8th Street kerfuffle revealed a lack of attention to the master plan and empathy for different modes of travel.

(Click for larger view)

Tonight’s meeting is an attempt to not be caught off-guard like they were this past spring. The neighborhoods have been asking for more than just car-centered infrastructure for over a decade, at the least. There was considerable frustration when money was finally allocated for intensive street projects and sidewalks, bike lanes are other complete street facilities were all but forgotten.

After tonight, staff proposals & commitment for 2011 will be more clear.

Earlier in the year (June 15), the city commission and planning commission held a joint meeting where they toured these locations by bus. Tonight should reflect the discussions that occurred that night and in subsequent discussions.

The locations and original proposals from June 15 are:

  1. Elmwood Ave. (north of Front St.): maintain current width, waterline and sewer improvements, poor sections of sidewalk fixed, new sidewalk east of Wayne on north side and a change at the Bay St. entrance to reduce high-speed corner taking.
  2. Randolph St. (east of Elmwood Ave.): current dimensions, partial sewer replacement, sidewalk repairs.
  3. Barlow St. (north of 8th St.): basically a mill and fill, sidewalk repairs. No additional improvements.
  4. Barlow St. (between Centre and Carver St): Originally planned for 2010 without sidewalks.
  5. Kelly St.(between Grant and Barlow St): pave it, new sewer. Sidewalks not included in proposal.
  6. Shawnee St.(between Wenonah and E Bay Blvd): pave it and add curb. Sidewalks not included in proposal.

* All sidewalk ramps will be replaced or built to meet American Disability Act requirements.

A little citizen oversight

The 2010 street projects included some last-minute improvements thanks in part to the effort of the planning commission. Airport Access Rd., Hannah St. and even the 8th Street project all benefited from citizen oversight.  Airport Access now has a wider shoulder, the western most block of Hannah St. now has sidewalks on both sides and 8th Street at least has some improved crosswalks.

It can only be expected the same, or better, will occur with advanced diligence.

Have any suggestions for any of these streets?

More images from Barlow St. (south side)

In front of the Grand Traverse Area Community Living Apartments, looking south.

Standing at the Carver St. intersection, looking north.

Woman walking east on Centre St. No sidewalk, semi-busy traffic and heavy pedestrian traffic.Technically not on the list for 2011, but very similar to Kelly St. one block north.

Complete the streets!


  1. Bill Palladino
    August 4, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    The image of the woman with cane walking down Barlow is stunning. I’ve seen many people walking that stretch, and there are several regulars that have disabilities using that exact stretch. We shouldn’t ask our citizens to risk their lives for us. Thanks for the coverage Gary.

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