Home > Chatter, Complete Streets > Serious Questions Expressed About Boardman Lake Ave.

Serious Questions Expressed About Boardman Lake Ave.

UPDATE: View last night’s city commission meeting online at UpNorthMedia (Dec. 13th)

Serious Questions Expressed About Boardman Lake Ave.

Moves To Planning Commission

Last night’s city commission study session on the proposed land-purchase, and need, for a Boardman Lake Ave. was a meeting full of questions with not many answers. The assumption has always been that a road will ease the concerns of the Old Town and that this was acceptable to the rest of the community. After all, more roads reduce motorized traffic impacts. I’m not confident that the process encourages a questioning of this assumption, but I’m more than willing to be proven wrong.

Impatient Proponents

If you’re a bypass proponent who has been involved from the inception and are happy with the resulting studies you probably walked away with a high level of frustration. After all, as was explained by the commissioners, there was a promise made to some of the residents of Old Town and now that solutions to the 2-roadblocks have emerged, the city is back “exploring the options.” The 2 road blocks were 1) acquiring the right to move the rail wye at the end of 14th and 2) funding, which has now been cleared through the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority TIF capture along the west side of Boardman Lake.

Commissioners/Citizens Asking Questions

If you’re concerned about the project there wasn’t much to address those concerns from last night’s meeting. It needs to be noted, that nobody was banging the table in opposition–not yet at least. I suppose a small consolation is that the commission, represented by 5 of the 7 last night (cmmns Mike Gillman and Barbara Budros were absent), seemed to share concerns and questions about the real impact the road and it’s design. Commissioner Ralph Sofferdine was the lone commissioner last night who showed a lack of interest in addressing remaining concerns. He’s expressed impatience with the pace of this project in the past and his main question from last night was, “are we going to do something?

The other commissioners’ & Mayor, apart from Cmmn Jody Bergman, who didn’t make one comment or question during the discussion, had shown that they did their homework and had questions. When and how those questions will be answered remains to be seen.

Planning Commission Meeting Dec. 15 • 7pm

The planning commission is discussing the same issue tomorrow night. They meet at 7pm in the Governmental Center, 2nd floor chambers. It’s expected that new questions will be expressed tomorrow night and added to the growing list. It’s also expected that they City will take action (early 2011) to hold some form of public process to provide answers to their-own, as well as citizen questions on the table.It’s my hope that it will be in a setting where we can have a discussion rather than a point, counter-point statement session.

If you have Boardman Lake Ave. questions, it isn’t too late to submit them. Send them to the City Manager and city planner at: Ben Bifoss • bbifoss@traversecitymi.gov & Russ Soyring • rsoyring@ci.traverse-city.mi.us

I haven’t crafted a complete list of questions from last night or of my own, but last night Mayor Chris Bzdok listed 8 questions that are certainly important and offer a good starting point.

  1. What happens at the 8th Street intersection?
  2. How will motorized traffic be motivated to use the bypass?
  3. Is there a way to measure the induced traffic from a new road?
  4. How to provide safety and convenience to people on foot?
  5. What are the alternatives to a new road? Traffic calming? (How about transit investment?)
  6. Are their other North-South alternatives to be enhanced?
  7. What is the time-table for Phase II south of 14th? Merits of project with out Phase II?
  8. What is the role of the planning commission, master plan and, to lesser extent, the Grand Vision?

The documents detailing the project provided by the City are at the top of the City’s website.


  1. JohnRobertWilliams
    December 14, 2010 at 11:23 am

    A bypass is instituted when an artery is clogged, blocked, closed, damaged, etc. Cass Street and Union Street(the former US-31), appear to be none of the above. This is an un-necessary bypass, unless Medicaid is paying for it.

  2. Ed Kalat
    December 14, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Here is a letter I sent to our city commissioners:
    Dec 14, 2010

    Dear Mayor Bzdok and Commissioners:

    I attended the Boardman Lake Avenue study session to listen and learn. Upon reflection after the meeting I wish to share a few thoughts.

    First, I like what I heard about the Boardman Lake Trail extensions. That adds a lot of value to the project.

    Second, I wish to emphasize what several people said this evening. Study this hard and make sure it will accomplish what you intend it to. I heard people from the Old Town neighborhood speak to the need to reduce traffic on Cass and Union Streets. Considering traffic flow from S Airport Rd and 14th St, I can see how this proposed road would divert traffic from Cass St. I am skeptical, however, that much traffic would be diverted from Union St. I walk to work and twice daily cross both streets at 7th St. Typically it is much easier to cross Cass than Union. I think that is because a lot of Cass St traffic flows to and from 8th St, whereas traffic on Union St flows to and from downtown areas. I fail to see how many motorists using Union St will find an advantage using the new road.

    By the very nature of being only a handful of blocks from their major downtown intersections, I think Cass and Union Streets will always have a considerable amount of traffic. Will we spend millions of dollars to find that traffic on one of those streets is only a little bit calmer and traffic unchanged on the other? There may be less costly and more effective ways to calm traffic in Old Town.

    When plans to rework Division St were on the table, there was a proposal to add a traffic light at 11th St to enhance motorized and pedestrian traffic from the Central neighborhood to the Commons. I recall authorities stating that would not be possible because of the proximity to the 14th St traffic light. Curiously, the Boardman Lake Avenue would necessitate 3 traffic lights on 8th St in about the same length of roadway! Our leaders need to be consistent with what they tell us.

    I hope this is not a “bait and switch”. I heard nothing mentioned about Phase III, but the Gourdie-Fraser website shows a 4 lane boulevard. Talk about a traffic calming project! I can’t imagine traffic kept at 25 mph on that. Another Grandview Parkway is a lot different than a 2 lane street.

    And finally, beware unintended consequences. When 8th St was recently repaved in disregard of the Grand Vision and Complete Streets principles, there was the suggestion that it could be fixed later. This new in-town bypass will funnel more traffic onto 8th St, turning it into a more formidable and dangerous barrier to pedestrian crossing and making its conversion to a Complete Street less likely.

    Ed Kalat
    219 Midtown Dr

  3. December 15, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Thank you for sharing, Ed.

    Again, I urge everyone to send their questions about Boardman Lake Ave to the City Manager, city planner and city commission. It doesn’t have to be long.

    Ben Bifoss • bbifoss@traversecitymi.gov
    Russ Soyring • rsoyring@ci.traverse-city.mi.us

    And the city cmmn’s emails can be found on the city web site, along with the history of the project. http://www.ci.traverse-city.mi.us/

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