City reaches out to governor about Beacon plan

Grand Haven officials continue to stand firm in their fight to keep the U.S. 31 landscaped boulevard through part of town.
Alex Doty
Aug 20, 2014

“Our boulevard is a critical part of our connection in the community,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said.

Once the M-231 highway project connecting Crockery and Robinson townships is completed, the Michigan Department of Transportation wants to widen U.S. 31 through a portion of Grand Haven.

Based on preliminary plans proposed by state transit officials, each side of Beacon Boulevard between Jackson Street and Washington Avenue would gain an additional travel lane. The boulevard's median would be reduced in width to accommodate the third lane each way. In its place would likely be a smaller median, or a concrete divider or median.

Mayor Geri McCaleb used Gov. Rick Snyder’s visit during the Coast Guard Festival as a way to bolster the city’s case.

“Geri talked to the governor and said, ‘Stick a fork in it until you’ve built a real bypass,’” McGinnis said.

McCaleb said she mentioned the boulevard situation to the governor when they were at Escanaba Park for the festival’s National Coast Guard Memorial Service on Aug. 1.

“He’s familiar with our boulevard,” she said. “I hope the beauty and the calming effect of it made an impression on him.”

McCaleb noted that Snyder said the state was moving toward more walkable communities — something that lined up with the city’s goals.

“He said, ‘Write me a note’ — and that’s what I did,” McCaleb said. “We followed up with a letter and have included the resolution that Pat put together (last November).”

Read the city's letter to Gov. Snyder: Download the PDF (Related File) below this story.

Read the complete story in today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

Comments

trekking

Why can't the state wait until M231 if fully completed and then do studies to see if the bypass actually reduced traffic. Wasn't that the reason for the bypass? Evidently they are sure it won't reduce traffic if they want widen US 31. Or maybe a friend owns the construction company?

gordbzz231

When you go thru town on Beacon, you will notice the median is in badly in need for repair, the lawn is way too high, some spot,s are a foot higher than the curb, there are places where the curb is broken, i say, repair or replace but leave it, dont need the additional lane,s

ohwell

The M-231 bypass isn't going to reduce traffic on 31 thru GH. Not when it only goes from M-45 to I-96. Not until it goes from I-196 to I-96, it is going to be any help. Yes there are people that live in the area of M45, that will use it. There are not going to be any truckers going out their way to use the bypass. To use the term bypass is ridiculous anyway. It's not bypassing anything. It is creating a short cut for a select few that will use it. Go to Cadillac and see what a real bypass looks like. M-231 isn't a real bypass. Not to mention, it is only two lanes, instead of the original four lanes it was sold as.

Until the state pulls their head out of the dark cavity they have it in and builds a real bypass, the traffic is going to continue to be an issue on US-31 thru GH. Widening 31 isn't going to solve anything, just put more cars in the middle of town. All those cars have to go back to two lanes on both ends of town. That's going to create more problems than we have now. Common sense, something that is severely lacking in all levels of government.

jlebrasseur

Adding a traffic lane each will will actually make congestion worse. The reason traffic is so bad right now is because the lights were purposely timed by MDOT incorrectly (they typically do this a few years before they try to push a project through like this). The source is my friend who is one of MDOT's signal maintainers.

Look up induced demand if you want to see why traffic will get worse with more lanes. There have been a TON of studies on it, and they all have come to the same conclusion. More lanes equals much more congestion.

gordbzz231

Even the traffic at Harvey and Sternburg move,s faster than Jackson and US31 and the traffic there very heavy, i agree with you there.

GH55

A suggestion would be to try and resolve some of the issues surrounding US-31 and Jackson St. intersection. The south bound left turn lane off US-31 is given priority over everyone else. Most of the time, unless the traffic is backed up to a stop north bound, you can usually make it all the way through town in sync with the lights, until you get to Jackson, then the left turn signal throws off the whole deal.
Additionally, any traffic that wants to continue on north through this intersection, past the Spring Lake exit, is required to move over a lane unless they are already sitting in the LH lane heading north.
Get rid of the 7th street north bound merge, where people try and come into US-31 and then make a right turn at Jackson, so that two lanes heading north can be maintained and then make the Spring Lake exit lane starting just north of Jackson. As it is, most trucks and other traffic that have driven through Grand Haven more than once know to get over well before coming to Jackson Street, if they intend to pass through to the north past the Spring Lake exit. This reduces the north bound two lanes of Beacon Blvd., to one effective travel lane and a very extended Spring Lake exit lane.
Additional study as to how to reduce the need to turn left heading south off US-31 would also help this issue.
Widening Beacon Blvd. would only add more space to store the parked cars.

jlebrasseur

You are definitely thinking in the right direction. Widening is not the answer. There are many ways, like you mentioned, to smooth the traffic flow AND keep our median.

Jackson/31 is 90% of the whole problem, but you will never get MDOT to admit they screwed up when that intersection in its current form was designed. It is not only bad for motorists, but downright deadly for pedestrians and cyclists.

Simply upgrading the traffic lights to the new smart lights would go a great deal towards solving the issue since they can communicate with each other. Instead of letting traffic back up for a mile when the light is red at the north end of town, they can be programmed to break up the traffic a bit which will actually allow it to flow smoothly. It works perfectly fine in other states, but MDOT is obsessive about widening roads instead of doing the cheaper, more logical fixes.

ghjhs

If only the trucks use the bypass it will help but the way it was desighned ,directing trafic onto m45 was just short of stupid,they should have built a bridge over m45 contuned south with a lane merging on to 31 S.
I think geting qualifed to work for M DOT you would half to have fallen out of a apple tree an laned on your head.

ohwell

Problem is, the truckers are not going to use the so called bypass. I for one would not go way out of my way, knowing it is not going to save me anytime. Your going to go miles to the east, just to go back miles to the west. I see $$$$ going out the window with increased fuel consumption, and maintenance on trucks.

Again, M-231 is only a two-lane road. Now if it started further south, like originally planned and four lanes, limited access, would it be beneficial. This debacle called M-231 isn't going to prevent congestion anywhere. Just going to cost up taxpayers more money, with maintaining the road. That is after the waste of money it is costing us to build.

upchuck

way back when 31 was being planed it was supposed to go where the bypass is being built now. but grand haven leaders wined ansd dined lansing to have it follow the path that it is now.

when the bypass was being planned once again grand haven leaders wined and dined lansing to put it some where else. lansing agreed but with the under standing that there would be work done in grand haven

gh leaders agreed to the compromise and divided someone else's back yard,and now that its time for grand haven there is nothing but complaining and more wining and dining in lansing in order to back out of there part of the deal

its time to grow up grand haven you cannot always get your way unless there is enough money involved

upchuck

way back when 31 was being planed it was supposed to go where the bypass is being built now. but grand haven leaders wined ansd dined lansing to have it follow the path that it is now.

when the bypass was being planned once again grand haven leaders wined and dined lansing to put it some where else. lansing agreed but with the under standing that there would be work done in grand haven

gh leaders agreed to the compromise and divided someone else's back yard,and now that its time for grand haven there is nothing but complaining and more wining and dining in lansing in order to back out of there part of the deal

its time to grow up grand haven you cannot always get your way unless there is enough money involved

gordbzz231

Finally, we find someone that remember,s what was said, good point chuck.

Cubbie

Amen! Grand Haven whined and complained about needing this bypass. Now we in Robinson will have a bypass, traffic, noise, pollution, and the accompanying development.

All I read and hear is how losing that small strip of grass will forever change the character of Grand Haven. Think about what that bypass is doing to Robinson! Grand Haven agreed to this and now that the bypass is reality the city is trying to weasel it's way out of their end of the deal.

Creed Bratton

Has anyone ever suggested a round about?

gordbzz231

a round about ?

Creed Bratton

Also I have posted about this issue before, but I think a relatively few minor fixes could make an impact on better traffic flow.Would wish someone from the city would see these suggestions...

1. Make two signs stating " All semi trucks/slow traffic must use right lane." Place these signs at the Jackson/31 intersection and the Robbins Rd/31 intersection. Have city cops actually enforce this.

2. There is a huge disconnect with the flow of traffic between the intersections of Park St and Woodlawn Ave. They allow traffic to make left turns going north and south bound off 31, yet there is no left turn lane to make these turns at both intersections. So anytime traffic backs up at the Park intersection because of people turning left, it backs the highway up, causing traffic to backup all the way up to the Taylor/Beacon intersection. The Woodlawn Ave intersection is now pointless and only causes problems because it also does not have a left turn lane. Close it,and force people to use the new Waverly left turn intersection so traffic backs up less and create new left turn lanes at the Park St intersection. This is a huge problem right in the middle of the highway where traffic should be flowing smooth.

3. Time all the traffic lights correctly. Incredible that either the city or Mdot can not get all the traffic lights on the highway timed correctly.

4. And yes lastly, I suggest studies towards seeing if a roundabout at the intersection of Jackson and 31 could be the end to all these troubles. Instead of making more lanes and tearing up landscape why not try and use the existing space more efficiently?

GH55

You are right, there are left turn lanes at dead end roads off US31, and none at Park street where buses turn for the middle school. No sense!
Requiring trucks to stay in the right lane would work nicely if the Spring Lake exit was actually an exit ramp instead of the continuation of the north bound right lane of the highway. If you stay in the right hand lane, you have to move out of that lane to continue north past Spring Lake.
That should be fixed! It could be easily fixed!
US31 north bound becomes three lanes wide as it goes past the 7th street merge. The traffic entering here is minimal. An entire lane is added on the left for this activity. Then the traffic that remains in the RH lane going north, must either exti to Spring Lake or move over to continue north.
So, this intersection gives great emphasis to those merging north from 7th street and to those south bound turning left onto Jackson!
One can be easily changed the other would requqire more study!
MDOT get er done!

CitizensDave

I'm looking forward to the new Robinson Township Walmart, McDonalds, Speedway, and all the other fine establishments that will be part of the expansion. Great tax revenue for the county and township!

Cubbie

I certainly hope that is sarcasm.

gordbzz231

Heck ya, then the boonies,s will no longer exists, those folk,s out there will have to learn the city life.

retired DOC

IF 231 really does as the DOT hopes for, how will two lane M45 handle all the increase in traffic? To me things to do not seem to be well thought out.

ohwell

How is the two-lane M-231 going to handle the traffic too. Then again, I don't see too many people going miles out of their way to get on M-231 anyway.

I can see it now, there is going to be someone out for a "Sunday" drive on the awesome two-lane M-231 holding every up.

gordbzz231

I think the new bypass will be functional with two lane,s. it will be like the rest of the road,s, two lane, maybe a gas station and convenience store, Oakley,s on 104th is kind out of the way and pretty small, but Spinner,s does a good job, pretty busy at time,s any one,s your heading out of town thou, should have enough gas, right ?

ohwell

This so called bypass is not about giving someone a spot to put a gas station/convenience store. Again, this is hardly a bypass. A bypass is road that gives you an option to bypass around a city. M-231 does not do that, you have to go way out of your way to get to it. Just look at any other real bypass, there is a pathway from the original route to take you to the bypass. And they are not two-lane roads, they are four-lane limited access highways.

The only thing M-231 is going to do is cost us taxpayers money we don't have. Just more road to maintain and patrol.

The only real solution for the traffic thru GH, is build a true bypass, or build an elevated limited access highway over GH above the same footprint of US-31.

beachboy67

I can see a huge influx of traffic on Mercury Drive from GH people avoiding Spring Lake to go to work in Grand Rapids. Seems like that might ease Spring Lake's traffic flow, but it will definitely impact those residential neighborhoods in GH and Robinson Townships. Haven't seen any thoughts on this item.

gordbzz231

I lived on Mercury drive for a while and the traffic out there was crazy, everyone coming from the east going west in to town, glad i moved from there, anyone going north or south or east can hookup on m-231 if they provide on and off ramp,s at different location,s

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