Some say crosswalk confusion creates dangerous situation
TRAVERSE CITY, Mi. (WPBN/WGTU) —
Even if you don't live in Traverse City, chances are you've driven through the area.
You may have noticed a new crosswalk on Grandview Parkway near Hall Street that seems to be leaving both drivers and pedestrians confused about who has the right of way.
According to City Planning Director, Russ Soyring, plans for the crossing came up a few years ago when plans for Hotel Indigo began.
Soyring said there was already some heavy foot-traffic there, and city leaders knew that with the addition of the hotel that there would be more.
"We can't expect people to walk a block out of their way to go across the bay when they really want to go directly across the bay to let's say the volleyball courts," Soyring said.
The City Planning Department, Engineering Department and the Michigan Department of Transportation worked together to determine the best spot for it.
Engineering leaders say a pedestrian tunnel was also considered, but wouldn't have worked out for various reasons.
Soyring says the crosswalk should be treated like "all crosswalks in Michigan."
"If a pedestrian is in the crosswalk and the driver is in the path of the pedestrian, the motorist must yield to the pedestrian," Soyring said. "Now the pedestrian can't just step out and surprise the motorist. The pedestrian in that case would be at fault and could get a ticket. If a pedestrian is just standing along the side of the road about ready to cross, the motorist does not have to stop. If a pedestrian has already cleared the path of where they would have a conflict, the motorist can continue on."
The crosswalk sits right in front of The Candle Factory where several employees say they've seen some close calls.
"We've seen a man walk across with his dog, get tangled up in the leash in the middle and of course cars are just whizzing by," said Marcia Teichman, owner of the store. "And I know one of our staff people had to go out and make sure that he was okay because we just felt like he needed some help."
Teichman says they hear horns, and tires screeching multiple times a day.
"You almost feel like it shouldn't be an option," she said. "I don't know if they have to put up more warning signs that are higher? They probably can't put anything across the road."
Soyring thinks lowering the now 35mph speed limit could make a big difference for the whole area.
"It needs to be at a slower speed," Soyring said. "It's just not appropriate to have a higher speed highway on our waterfront that's this congested."
A lower speed limit would require a speed study from Michigan State Police, according to Soyring.
There's no immediate plans to make any changes to this crosswalk area, and if the city does decide to make any, those would have to go through MDOT first.
MDOT says they believe the crossing is safe as long as both pedestrians and drivers use appropriate caution. They say they'd be happy to discuss any improvements for the crosswalk with the city.