Home > Editorial, Engineering Design, Representing > The Old Town Bypass Capitulation…?

The Old Town Bypass Capitulation…?

Recently, the city of Traverse City made accessible what they are calling the Boardman Lake Avenue Summary ahead of Monday night’s study session. It is anything but a summary.

The information is thick and comes in 2-parts: a 38-page narrative of the issues involved (PDF) and a link to the consultant’s historical assessment & engineering of the project. The latter is over 60 links to PDF’s of descriptions, cross-sections and analysis.

This morning’s video, “A Conversation with an Engineer” certainly comes to mind. Where does a citizen begin?

(Click for larger view)

Digging In

We dig in and hope for the best, I suppose. I’ve expressed in a comment before that my gut reaction to this project is not positive. I haven’t seen anything yet to alter that instinct. To name just a few of my concerns: as designed, the Old Town Bypass will create a high-speed corridor for a less than a half mile; it is cut-off from the neighborhoods, so countering the “improvement of the network” argument; it will create another major disconnect in the active transportation network; is another major road next to one of the City’s natural resources.

The Old Town Bypass comes with a stack of promises, but no real proof on those returns. It’s claimed that a 50% reduction of traffic through Old Towne neighborhood will ensue. That number is irrelevant; 50% reduction from what base point? What about the induced traffic that will incur due to infrastructure that encourages unimpeded motorized traffic? Some of that will undoubtedly bleed back into Cass/Union Streets.

Community Discussion

I’m getting ahead of myself. The material, although lengthy, provided by the city is appreciated and deserves a perusal. This is a project envisioned in the 80’s and 90’s, and pursued after 2000. I think the community needs to hold the city to the words of the city manager that Monday night’s study session is truly a “new beginning to the discussion.

I emphasis the word discussion. Not meetings where there is no back and forth dialogue, but a real discussion where questions are answered and the goal is clearly stated to do what is best for the entire community.

To be continued…

In the meantime, tackle the available information and consider contributing your questions and perspective to the city commission prior to, or at, Monday night’s study session.

  1. Stephen
    December 8, 2010 at 2:05 am

    This is a disaster. Why waste a massive amount of money on a new road for cars right next to other perfectly fine roads? I’ve driven on cass/union/lake, it’s perfectly fine!

    And so much of our other infrastructure is lacking. I would much rather spend this money (and the money from the useless hammond-hartman bridge) on a streetcar down front street, or a comprehensive bike trail / bike lane network.

  2. TJ Andrews
    December 8, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    This is a really bad idea. Cars are going to zoom along the section, and whatever value to the neighborhoods in the green space along the lake will be lost. And cars are going to continue to cut through the neighborhoods.

  3. none
    December 9, 2010 at 11:29 am

    I cut through the side streets of the Old Town area all the time due to the bad traffic and the horrible decision to get rid of the left-turn option when going north into the Cass and 8th intersection (which forces cars to turn left into the more residential areas of 9th, 10th and 11th since it can’t be done on 8th anymore). Going east to west is also pretty bad: cutting through the Old Town and Central residential streets cuts my time passing from one side of town to the other by half. If there were decent bypasses like this proposed one, I’d not cut through anymore.

    And to connect the neighborhood to the lake and green space, address this concern with a couple of pedestrian/bicycle tunnels or bridges.

  4. Linnaea Melcarek
    December 9, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Didn’t the proposed road originally stretch as far as 17th Street? Or am I mistaken? If it had gone that far, I would have considered supporting it, since it would have taken traffic off Cass between 14th and 17th, where sidewalks are spotty to nonexistent. I don’t really see the need for a bypass between 8th and 14th. The stop signs every two blocks already slow traffic and make pedestrian crossing safe enough in that area.

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