City looks into possibility of going to 3 lanes
MANISTIQUE – Those traveling through Manistique on U.S. Hwy 2 may find fewer lanes in the near future. The lane reduction plan has been discussed by the Manistique City Council and in a public meeting with the Michigan Department of Transportation Tuesday.
According to City Manager Sheila Aldrich, the city approached MDOT recently to try to come up with a solution to resident and visitor complaints about the “walkability” near the Manistique River Bridge. These pedestrians and pedal bikers experience issues with crossing the roadway and bridge, she said.
During the conversation, Aldrich said numerous options were presented to the city, but MDOT stated the most feasible would be to pursue a “road diet”. This diet, she explained, essentially means taking the four-lane stretch of highway, from the Michigan State Police Post to Chippewa Avenue, down to three lanes. These lanes would include two driving lanes and one turn lane down the center.
“MDOT presented several examples of over 100 places in Michigan where the same type of road diet had been done, and they all turned out exceptionally well,” said Aldrich.
In fact, law enforcement and other city officials from across the state have written testimonials for MDOT to use when other cities inquire about the option, Aldrich said.
The process, she explained, would consist of simply repainting lines on the highway. Since the Manistique River Bridge resurfacing is nearly complete, MDOT would merely repaint the lines to fit the city’s plan, if approved by city council. After that, another MDOT resurfacing project west of the bridge would end the same way. The only special project
MDOT would have to undertake, Aldrich explained, would be on the east side of the bridge to repaint lines there.
Since there will be roadway leftover after the road diet, Aldrich said the city is asking that a marked bike/pedestrian lane be put into place. This lane would be differentiated with a white line, and allow pedestrians and bikers to safely travel along the south side (nearest Lake Michigan) of the highway.
Aldrich pointed out that such a path will also aid those who will stay at a planned city-owned campground, slated for completion in the near future.
“Some of the other cities who took part in a road diet initially expressed concerns about traffic slowing down and jamming it up, but it all turned out well,” Aldrich said.
She noted that MDOT had conducted a study of the area and concluded there would be no change in the movement of the nearly 5,000 vehicles passing through the stretch of highway daily.
The cost of the lane change will be completely absorbed by MDOT, Aldrich added. The city council is hosting a special meeting Friday at 12 p.m. to discuss the possibility of the road diet. The public is welcome to attend.
A final decision on the matter is expected to be made at Monday’s meeting of the council.