Drivers unhappy with Midland road diet voice frustration at city council meeting

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MIDLAND, Michigan (WJRT) - (05/20/2019) - Midland residents frustrated with a road plan that's cut traffic on U-S-10 down from three lanes speak out at Monday night's City Council meeting.

It's all part of a Road Diet study from Jerome Street to State Street.

The City says the now-year-long lane closure is part of a three-year pilot study to make the Buttles Street corridor safer and provide more space for pedestrians and bicyclists.

At Monday night's City Council meeting MDOT explained what it's found out so far.

MDOT took a look at four factors --traffic volume, speed, delays and crash information during the first year that the traffic diet has been underway.

A representative told the city council that the reduction of traffic from
three lanes to two has had very little impact on traffic volume, and that during the May 2019 delay study--held on May 7th and May 8th, no vehicle delays were identified.

Crash data from May of 2018 to May of 2019, however, shows the number of crashes increased from 26 to 37.

MDOT said the crashes were due to driver error.

The pilot study is supposed to last for three years, in order to collect additional data after the bridge construction is complete.

But many of the residents who spoke out Monday night were clearly frustrated with the idea of the pilot study continuing until 2020.

"When you have so much negativity going on on the Battles Street," said the second resident to speak,"and how to get thru safely, people don't want to come to your downtown."

"All the letters to the editor so far that I have noted, have been against this plan, nobody's writing a letter for it," noted another resident.

"There's no straight thru corridor," said Beth Martin," for the people that are trying to get through town, to the other side."

"It costs more for them to operate when they have to constantly start and stop, and it uses more fuel, more oil, more wear and tear on the vehicle," said Eric Anders while talking about truck drivers.

David Ramacker, President of the Michigan Baseball Foundation, which was established to promote investment in downtown Midland says he supports the efforts to continue and complete the study.

He explained this is about economic development and connectivity:

"Being able to walk across the streets and get to Mid Town," he said,"have these folks come downtown and walk downtown rather than have them feel like they have to drive downtown."

It will be up to the city council to decide if they want to make the road diet permanent. Four out of five council members voted in December of 2017 to approve the pilot study.

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