We hope you enjoy this abbreviated version of the
Serving Frankenmuth Since 1906
Vol. 111 No. 50 In our 111th year!
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Complete Streets-a guide to improve navigating the city
June 27 is next meeting with City-Township Commission
Norm Cox, President of The Greenways Collaborative, presented an overview of the Complete Streets Guide to the Frankenmuth City Council at the regular meeting on June 6. Prepared under the stewardship of a Council-appointed Steering Committee and with input from public sessions, the Complete Streets Guide recommends options to improve safety for all users of the City’s streets.
Cox’s presentation was a pre-cursor to discussions at an upcoming Joint City Township Planning Commissions meeting scheduled at 8pm on June 27. This meeting, which will be held at the City Township Government Center (the former City Hall,) is open to the public. The Complete Streets Guide will be presented for adoption by the City Council at future meeting. The Complete Streets Guide can be found online at www.WalkBike.info/Frankenmuth. The Guide details the committee process and recommendations, and includes interactive maps for public comment.
Complete Streets is a working manual that details options and methods to improve how users navigate the City’s streets. Whether in a neighborhood, commercial district or school zone, users move by cars and trucks, on bikes and as pedestrians, via horse carriage or pedi-cab, on motorcycle, farm equipment, motorhome or school bus.
Recommended improvements cover a variety of conditions or situations that can improve connectivity, can decrease in-town vehicle speeds and are realistic in scope. With a nod to regional biking and walking trails outside of the City, all recommendations focus on areas within the City limits.
𠇍uring the public meetings, high speeds were identified as a primary concern for all streets,” said resident and Steering Committee member, Ed Foltz. “Whether by the schools, through local neighborhoods or on any of our business corridors, drivers tend to speed through the area faster than common sense and safety needs should allow.”
City Police Chief Don Mawer says the situation is understandable, quoting the concept of the “three E’s: Environment, Education and Enforcement.” “While the simple solution appears to be stepped up enforcement to reduce traffic speeds, real and sustained reductions in speed can only be achieved with improved design in the street environment itself and through education.”
Presented as a guide more than a written plan, Complete Streets recommends a variety of improvements to consider for potential investment over the next 18 months. These recommendations include: development of bike routes through the community, filling in sidewalk gaps along the major corridors, improving connections to neighborhoods on the edge of town, using gateway entrances to reduce speeds coming into the community and crosswalk improvements near schools and at key locations in the Downtown.
Resident and Committee member Terry Horstman is pleased that the outcome of the Committee’s work was to create a flexible tool to enable improvements on any given street or intersection, based on the area’s need. He said, 𠇊s the City develops infrastructure projects, they can refer to the guide and implement appropriate improvements if funding can be identified. As we do more to improve the environment for kids walking to school or drivers maneuvering through a busy Saturday downtown, our problem won’t be finding adequate funding, but not accomplishing our vision fast enough.”
Within the historic district from Genesee to Jefferson, Main Street has been identified as a special study area. Both four-lane and three-lane recommendations are included in the guide. While studies show that a three lane configuration is safer than other alternatives, Frankenmuth is challenged during the increase in users during peak times such as events.
The committee has included both 3-lane and 4-lane options for Main Street because the intent of the guide is to enable good improvements to the street system when the time is right. “To recommend only 4-lane or only 3-lane would be short-sighted in that the application of either has both benefits and disadvantages,” says Sheila Stamiris, DDA Director.
“Our committee didn’t have the opportunity for a more in-depth analysis; therefore, the goal of the Steering Committee’s is to build the best 4-lane road we can by improving crossing sites, reducing speeds and providing for all users. It is clear we can make Main Street slower and safer.”
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has initiated a second special study for Main Street (M83) from Jefferson Street to Townline Road. Known as an ss Study,” MDOT will analyze future growth trends, future driveway openings, accident frequencies (especially at Weiss and Main,) event management needs and lane configuration. This study will take about a year to complete; traffic monitoring has already begun.
Not all recommendations are utilitarian solely in scope. Public input strongly supported the construction of another pedestrian bridge from the Tuscola Street area to Heritage Park along with the development of more bike and walking trail development when routes are identified. Funding for these projects will require pursuit of grants and gifts.
“The work done by the committee was very thorough, identifying our many assets, getting input from the public, learning about our options and assembling the puzzle pieces to achieve realistic solutions,” commented resident and committee member, Nancy List.
“In coming years, I want to look back on this process and see accomplishments across the City. We all want to see that this package of work improved how we move from destination to destination, that no accidents have happened and that everyone benefits from a street system that matches our town.”
With approval by the Complete Streets guide by the City Council, the planning process for public and private projects will be linked to future opportunities. City Manager Bridget Smith wants to make Complete Streets part of the review process for public and private projects. “We have an obligation to assure safety and provide for quality of life benefits where we can. Some recommendations will be easy to adopt, others not so. Taking the time to consider the options is good for all involved.”
The City Council-appointed Steering Committee was made up of people who applied to serve and represented residents, schools and commerce. In addition to members Foltz, Horstman, and List, committee members included Jim Howe, Aaron Lerash, Cindy Keinath, Terry Weiss, Dave Geiger, Jamie Furbush, Adele Martin, Chris Sutorik and Carol McClellan. City Council members Beth Bernthal Reindel and Carl Schoenow participated as Council liaisons. Technical assistance was provided by City Manager Bridget Smith, Police Chief Don Mawer, Parks and Rec Director Daren Kaczyinski and DDA Director Sheila Stamiris.
This initiative was funded with equal participation by the Frankenmuth Community Foundation, the Dancing with the Local Stars fund at the Frankenmuth Community Foundation, the Frankenmuth Credit Union Foundation for Our Communities and the Downtown Development Authority.
For more information about Complete Streets, contact Sheila Stamiris (989-652-3430 ext. 120) or email@example.com.