Deadly accident raises safety concerns on Peninsula Drive

Many residents in the area say theyâ??ve tried to take matters into their own hands by putting up caution signs to help remind drivers that it is a residential area, and to keep one another safe.

Investigators at the Grand Traverse County Sheriffâ??s Department still have not determined what factor lead to Monday nightâ??s deadly pedestrian accident on Old Mission Peninsula. Now, itâ??s sparked conversation among people who live on Peninsula Drive and say that the road is dangerous.

Many of the residents who live there say that at times theyâ??re afraid for their lives when it comes to doing things like getting the mail out of the mailbox, or crossing the road to go to the beach.

Many cyclists and runners like to use the road for recreational use and say there's not much room for them to ride on the shoulder or designated biking and walking path.

â??Itâ??s dangerous,â?? said George Grissom, who has been living on Peninsula Drive for one year. â??We go out to get the mail or newspaper and they donâ??t slow down, they come as close as they can, they donâ??t try to avoid you in any way.â??

â??I mean you donâ??t have the room for two cars and somebody walking or biking on either shoulder,â?? said Judy Dehr, who has lived on the road since 1999.

The two main concerns people have who live on Peninsula Drive are how narrow the road is, and drivers who donâ??t follow the 35 mph speed limit. Those who live in the area say that oncoming traffic can be hard to see around curves, and that sometimes people need to rely on listening for the cars before crossing the road.

The speed limit does change to 45 mph a few miles north, and is also set at 45 mph on the other side of Old Mission Peninsula on Center Road.

The Grand Traverse County Sheriffâ??s Department says they have received calls about both stretches of roadway for years.

â??It doesnâ??t seem well patrolled,â?? said Tom Parrent, who says heâ??s lived on Peninsula Drive for 14 years.

â??I see them rarely clocking speeders and very rarely up in this area,â?? said Pete Dehr.

But the sheriffâ??s department disagrees.

â??Itâ??s not everyday that thereâ??s someone assigned to traffic enforcement duty, but thereâ??s police officers out there on a daily basis,â?? said Lt. Brian Giddis.

Those who live on the road say they can tell that cars are driving faster than 35 mph.

â??Iâ??d say theyâ??re probably at least going 40, 40-50 miles per hour,â?? said Pete Dehr.

â??People going to work, coming home from work at night, they blow through here Iâ??m guessing 50 miles per hour,â?? said Grissom.

But Giddis says that whenever they send a patrol car out to check for speed, that they never find anything â??extraordinary.â??

â??40 miles per hour, and there isnâ??t very much space between you and the vehicle as they pass by, it may be perceived as pretty fast but when you go out and measure it as a law enforcement officer you see five miles per hour over,â?? said Giddis. â??Itâ??s not common for us to stop people and cite people for five over.â??

Which is why many residents in the area say theyâ??ve tried to take matters into their own hands by putting up caution signs to help remind drivers that it is a residential area, and to keep one another safe.

â??I think the road needs to be widened and it needs to be policed better, especially weekend nights and late night,â?? said Judy Dehr.

Peninsula Township Supervisor, Pete Correia says they havenâ??t discussed the possibility of any changes to the road in the last two or three years and says that the Grand Traverse County Road Commission holds the authority for any potential.

Road Commission Traffic Services Supervisor, Garth Greenan says that when they evaluate bad intersections in the county that they look at the number of accidents that have occurred there. Greenan says that Peninsula Drive is not at the top of their list right now.

But Greenan says that when the public really wants something to change, that they will partner with townships to try and help them apply for grants for possible road construction projects.

The Grand Traverse County Road Commission encourages residents to contact them by phone, (231) 922-4848 or on their Facebook page, with any concerns they have.