Home > Announcement, Crank, Design the Details, Editorial, Engineering Design > Boardman Lake Ave: Still Making News (Meeting Tuesday Night)

Boardman Lake Ave: Still Making News (Meeting Tuesday Night)

Link to official invite (PDF)

Yesterday the Record Eagle ran a long piece (behind paywall) in attempt to harness the different perspectives on the proposed Boardman Lake Avenue in anticipation of Tuesday night’s second public input session. If you can find a copy, it’s worth a read, and not just because this author has a quote in it. The article has a range of opinions, raises some questions and is a nice reminder of what’s at stake at Tuesday’s meeting.

Tuesday’s meeting is set up to:

  • Review input from the February 23rd meeting.
  • Answer/clarify questions raised.
  • Unveil new design plans for the area and the “road”.

All of this is a broader attempt to inform the ultimate decision makers on the City Commission who must soon vote to move forward with part or all of the plan, some of which involves moving on time-sensitive purchasing agreements for both MDOT property and private property on 8th Street.

Outside of the City Commission meetings, this will likely be the last public input opportunity. Please, come learn and share your perspective.

Some notes from the RE article:

  • Traffic does not act like water, as the BLA’s most vocal proponent keeps saying. Traffic acts more like a gas. Traffic wants to expand, like a gas, and fill whatever capacity is built to facilitate it. Hence, the current studies say that when the BLA is constructed it will already be at capacity. 5-years from now, if the BLA is built solely to move automobiles, we may simply have created more traffic and the generated trips will once again waft into Old Town.
  • Much of the material arguing for a road to be built focuses on the negative aspects of our auto-centric development history and are things most of the entire city is burdened with; they aren’t concerns that Cass St. is alone in having. For example, children not being allowed to play in their front yards because of traffic fears is a concern on: 14th Street, West Front, Division St. East Front St., 8th Street, Garfield Ave. Woodmere Ave., Parsons, Hannah St. and Rose St. to name a few major streets off the top of my head. This isn’t to say nothing should be done to help Cass St. residents. Quite the contrary, they have a right to be angry because nothing was done for 30 years. It’s as if someone settled on the BLA as the only solution and all other action stopped.

We have two broader issues at hand regarding motorized traffic:


  1. The altering of behavior of motorized traffic traveling to and through the City. We’ve done little to design for the slow & smooth traffic expected in a small town that brands itself with “small town character.” Tonight’s City commission meeting is a first step in approving a much anticipated citizen initiated traffic calming program. This will give residents a process to use.
  2. If the City is seriously concerned about negative impacts of automobiles in it’s neighborhoods, the goal of reducing single occupant vehicles across the board is required. This can’t and shouldn’t be done through restrictions. Rather, it needs to be addressed by looking at the infrastructure and policies that we accept and fund. Infrastructure is not neutral; what we build largely determines future activities. We won’t get anywhere by providing more arterials to facilitate SOV trips. It’s less about getting people out of their cars and more about providing options for them to do so in safe, convenient and comfortable way.

There has been plenty said regarding the proposed road. Below is a survey of the field, online, that I’m aware of. If you’ve seen some other commentary or news, please share below. Or, if you have thoughts that you want to get out, please leave a comment. This discussion needs to happen in the commons.

Related Boardman Lake Ave. Posts/Articles Currently Online:


__Hinge Line-an Old Town Resident

Plan for TC-Mayor Chris Bzdok’s community forum

Michigan Land Use Institute

The Record Eagle (most current articles are behind their paywall)

City of Traverse City– historical information:

Related MyWHaT Posts:
  1. Brian
    March 21, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I would definitely recommend the latest post at Hinge Line. That is a good summary of the data.

    I went through the available traffic counts, which range from 1980 through 2006, and I was surprised at how consistent they were (with a few outliers). One number that did stand out to me was the total traffic on Union and Cass was >19,000 VPD NORTH of 8th Street. That’s greater than the VPD on 14th west of Union. Traffic on 14th, west of Union, has consistently stayed around 17,500 VPD.

    As to the East/West traffic, Hinge Line blog made a good point: we already have a BLA — its currently called Lake Street. In fact, the 4-way stops that were added in Old Town (and actually cause a lot of the current complaints**) make it easier for east-west drivers to avoid the lights on 14th Street. The number of drivers that use it? 3100 VPD.

    Cass and Union are the main routes in and out of the economic center of the region; why would anyone take a longer route(BLA) only to make several difficult turns to get back to downtown?

    **The traffic noise, pollution and ‘hyperactivity’ as described in yesterday’s RE article are caused by the unwarranted 4-way stop intersections. A traffic calmed street would get rid of these and still provide safe crossing for pedestrians and cars.

  2. jamesb
    March 22, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Concerns raised by citizens in the RE article:

    1) traffic load
    2) traffic noise
    3) traffic congestion
    4) unsafe pedestrian crossings on Cass

    I still don’t understand why the residents wouldn’t want to work on their own roads first to reach their objectives. There are improvements that could be made to Union and Cass that could reduce traffic load and congestion.

    In my opinion, the burden of proof is still on the residents and apparently the City. They need to help me and others understand why building a road – without improving their own roads first – is an effective solution to their concerns.

    Maybe it’s a great solution. I just haven’t heard why.

    I know OT residents have been working on this for a long time. I’m certainly not trying to sound critical of them or their work. I’m new to the area, and I’m really trying to understand the situation.

    Traffic could be compared to water, but you have to include that adding a new road is opening up the valve. It’s not the same amount of water, there’s more water. Why wouldn’t the city close the valve instead of open the valve?

  3. Julie Clark
    March 22, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Last night’s story on NPR is both interesting and timely for tonight’s meeting: The End of the Road: Saying Goodbye To Freeways

  4. Brian
    March 22, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    It sounds like you have a pretty good understanding already, jamesb.

    I think the City really blew it in the 1990’s when the residents were complaining about traffic conditions and ended up forcing the City to install the 4-way stop signs which have made the problems worse; traffic volumes haven’t changed during that time span. Instead, the City built two new parking decks and continued to encourage traffic into downtown. Since Union and Cass are the main routes into downtown, this will continue. Instead of working with residents of Old Town to make Cass and Union a safe environment for everyone, the City hired an engineer to design another road based on an idea conceived in the 1970’s.

    Even if the City builds BLA, they’re still going to have to come back and do the work necessary to make Cass and Union safe streets. As you suggest, james, they should start there first.

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