Pedestrian crossing lights

Now Is the Time to Weigh in on Grandview Parkway Overhaul

January 31, 2022 |

Big changes are coming to Traverse City’s bay front avenue, Grandview Parkway, and more voices are needed to urge transportation planners to build not just a bigger road, but a far better road—one that sets the stage for our entire town as a place that values walking, biking, and people—not just cars.

In short, let’s make a road that lives up to the full meaning of its name, Grandview Park-way.

The good news is that the Michigan Department of Transportation is looking for your feedback on a new proposed design before they widen and rebuild the road between Garfield Avenue and Division Street in 2023.

Now is the time to let MDOT and the Traverse City Commissioners know that one of the most significant road projects of the century should have a design that prioritizes people over cars.

MDOT’s current proposal includes a few changes that may slightly improve the environment for pedestrians and people on bikes, wheelchairs or other mobility devices. For example, there’s one new pedestrian crossing and Front Street and Grandview and an expanded TART Trail

But, those additions are far too spotty and meager for the vision that Grandview Parkway should live up to, and that the people of Traverse City want it to live up to for the next 60 years. It’s time to rethink the concrete barrier that has stood between downtown and the waterfront since the 1950s.

Much more is needed to design the parkway in a way that meets our local transportation goals and that serves the thousands of residents and visitors who are crossing the avenue on foot and bike.

The current proposals prioritize moving vehicles through town as quickly as possible by making more space for driving lanes at the expense of other users and paving over yet more sidewalk space in the process. And even though more and more people are crossing Grandview each year by foot and bike, the proposed design still shows very few places for people to cross safely and there’s a considerable lack of space between the sidewalk and traffic in most areas.

Imagine the cars and semi-trucks whizzing by, just feet away from the moms and dads with strollers who walk the sidewalk all year long—not to mention snow plows obliterating the sidewalks in winter.

There are many improvements that could be made to this design and we encourage you to urge MDOT and city officials to follow their own “Complete Streets” policy and create a new plan that looks at the future needs of our community, calms traffic, and creates more space and safety for people on foot, bike, wheelchair, scooter, and other devices to cross Grandview and travel along the parkway.

For example, planners could:

• Install additional “mid-block” pedestrian crossings with crossing signals between busy intersections, like the existing crossing at Grandview and Elmwood Avenue (pictured above). More crossings could be added between Division and Oak Street, Union and Cass Streets, and east of Park Street;

• Ensure intersections at Park St. and Grandview have pedestrian crossings on both sides of the street;

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

• And, build in some kind of barrier or structure where sidewalk is right next to parkway curb.

But, those are just our ideas. MDOT and city officials need to hear from YOU. If you’re interested in weighing in on how Grandview looks for the next 60 years, then we encourage you to send a brief email today or tomorrow to MDOT’s Lucas Porath at PorathL@Michigan.gov and also Traverse City City Commissioners at citycommissioners@traversecitymi.gov.

City commissioners need to know that our community wants more from MDOT. Before 1951, cities were required to approve all MDOT designs when it reconstructed roads within their communities and it’s time to bring back the spirit behind that law.

MDOT also has two virtual public meetings coming up to show their current plans and answer questions.

You can participate in the meetings with the info below:

Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, 5–7 p.m.

Link: https://bit.ly/3nVRL9X

To join by phone without using Internet, call 616.512.3275

Conference ID: 594 600 040#

Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, 5–7 p.m.

Link: https://bit.ly/3gah1Fr

To join by phone without using Internet, call 616.512.3275

Conference ID: 356 010 582#

Our message is simple: This is one of the most significant transportation projects in Traverse City—one that will shape the city’s future—and we urge MDOT to make design changes that better reflect the city’s transportation goals and prioritize biking, walking, and other mobility options in its new designs for our Grandview Parkway. 

James Bruckbauer

James Bruckbauer is Groundwork’s Deputy Director.