City voices opposition

After several months of discussion, city leaders have officially let Lansing know how they feel about the state's plans to widen U.S. 31 through Grand Haven.
Alex Doty
Oct 23, 2013


A resolution that lays out how City Council feels about the Michigan Department of Transportation plan was unanimously approved Monday night.

“Their job is moving cars, and our job is protecting the community,” Mayor Geri McCaleb said. “We want to affect their decision-making before they invest a lot of money into the project.”

State transportation officials say lanes would be added in both directions on U.S. 31 from Jackson Street to Washington Avenue. This would eliminate much of the landscaped median along this stretch of the highway.

“All the feedback I’m getting is people want to keep that boulevard," McCaleb said. "There’s got to be a better way to solve the problem than what they are proposing. Otherwise, what is going to be left is a 5-foot strip of concrete.”

This, she said, would eliminate the aesthetics and decrease safety in the area, and would divide the town.

“It is going to be just like the Jackson Street intersection — it’s not a place where people choose to cross the street," McCaleb said. "We don’t want to expand that intersection deeper into the community.”

Instead, the mayor said she and others on City Council want to see results of the M-231 bypass through Robinson and Crockery townships before any changes are made in the city.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



Raised in Grand Haven, and bought my first home a block off Beacon on Washington, and I say it's time to "BITE THE BULLET" and give up the center median! It serves NO useful purpose, and cost's the city an AWFUL lot of money every year to maintain! It's either THAT, or you start pulling up medians on the sides of the road...AND SIDEWALKS, because the needed space MUST come from SOMEwhere! People shouldn't be crossing the "highway" at every road-crossing ANYWAY! Walk a few blocks up to a "traffic light" and safely cross THERE! Works just fine in HOLLAND!!! Grand Haven is no longer the "quaint" little town it was 50 years ago! Time to advance with the times!!!

Michael Johnson

Really? As a Grand Haven resident for over ten years, I find the increasing levels of congestion through the city - whether due to increase of volume or timing changes in the signals that occur along the US 31 strip - really quite annoying. As a resident, I would be in favor of virtually anything that would relieve traffic congestion, including a widening of the lanes through that section of 31. Perhaps that would take pressure off the through-steets in the neighborhoods on the East side of town...where my child plays. It is bad enough that Griffin has become a semi-truck zone due to the inexcusably long time the low-bidders have taken to rebuild and repave Beechtree; Ferry street has also become ridiculous due to the congestion occurring every single day along 31. If you are worried about "dividing" the community, perhaps the city should pay more attention to investing in the infrastructure and businesses of East-Town, instead of tying up investment in such stalled projects as the Grand Landing boondoggle or allowing brown-sites to persist throughout the city. Maybe some money spent on improving existing or providing new cross-walks throughout the community, extending and creating more user-friendly bike-lanes city-wide, and beautifying or extending the existing sidewalk systems, which frequently suffer from broken or non-existent connector segments both East and West of 31. In short, not "All" of your feedback is against this plan - here is my feedback, and it is for it. I wonder how the populace would respond at the ballot box if this were put to a popular vote; perhaps that would force the city to listen to both East and West voices on the issue rather than primarily influential downtown voices and the voices of those business interests along that stretch of 31, who I am sure are making their negative opinions known.


The sad thing is, adding lanes will NOT ease congestion. It will actually increase it. It is a phenomenon called 'induced demand'. What MDOT wants to do will actually make the problem much worse.

Do the research into induced demand yourself. There are MANY studies lasting decades showing this phenomenon.

MDOT artificially increases congestion through changed light timings before a project like the proposed one starts in order to get the public on board by making them think there is a problem with the road itself. It is no conspiracy theory; I was recently told that directly by one of my buddies who is a traffic engineer with MDOT. The orders to do this come from the top.

This project is nothing more than a federal money-grab and will cause much worse congestion when completed.

The simple and cheap fix, according to my traffic engineer friend is simply to correct the light timing.

It's too bad the media or city hasn't called them out on the induced demand phenomenon yet; MDOT does a good job at trying to avoid those questions, and you will see them backtrack quite quickly if more of the public is made aware of the phenomenon.

Tri-cities realist

Perhaps your buddy or his colleagues could go rogue and just fix the timing of the lights.


Time the stupid lights already! We don't have to wait for the bypass to see if that works.


This is the 2nd time I have lived here. I lived here between 1973 - 1977 and moved back here in 2010 to the present. Nothing has changed here. It's actually a nice community but it is sooooooo counterproductive that it isn't even funny. It's like a time warp here. Nothing has changed in nearly 40 years. The community is like watching a soap opera. You can walk away from it for 6 months and come back later and you haven't missed a thing. Now that is pathetic all in itself. You have Meijers, Walmart, Home Depot, and fast food chains coming out your freakin' ears. Time to expand on those notes. It would be nice if this area would bring in Costco,(and that would mean JOBS), Menards, Aldi's, Big Lots, and many more I could list here. You're stuck every time of either having to go to GR, Holland or pathetic crime infested Muskegon. That median in the road from Robbins Road to Jackson Street(and vice versa)serves us ABSOLUTELY NO PURPOSE and only congests traffic. Time to get with the times here Grand Haven. This is 2013 not 1913.


YEAH! No one has green space and medians in this modern era! They are pathetic! Having Home Depot and Meijer, but not Big Lots and CostCo, is just pathetic!


Losers!!! Success is measured by the plastic crap that fills your home and the Whopper wrappers that fill your car. WHo needs beautiful boulevards. Let The French have the Champ Elysess-Losers!!! What they need is WalMart With a big parking lot in front of the Louvre.


As for the city being divided, it already is. Look,currently 3 lanes going north from Jackson St. and 3 lanes coming in from the North up to Jackson St. By adding that additional lane it would allow traffic to move more freely. And Close off the access to north bound Beacon from Columbus st. and close off that 7th St. access to north bound U.S. 31 and it would make traffic flow much better.


Closing off Northbound US-31 from Columbus (and, to a lesser extent, from 7th) would shift all downtown traffic to Jackson. How is that helping anything?


A girl named Geri was given a little baby duck as a gift in her Easter basket. Geri was overjoyed with the little baby duck. The two were soon inseparable, and the little baby duck bonded with the girl as if she were its mother.
Geri loved her baby duck and wanted her duck to stay little forever. But Geri noticed that the duck seemed to be getting just a little bit larger every day. Geri thought to herself, "what if I give my duck a little squeeze every day to keep my duck little? Then my duck will always stay the same."
So every day Geri gave her duck a little squeeze in an attempt to keep her duck little. But every day, the duck continued to grow just a little bit larger. Geri thought to herself, "I need to squeeze my duck just a little bit harder for good measure. That should do it."
Then one day, Geri squeezed her little baby duck just a little too hard. "I killed it!" Geri exclaimed in horror as she burst into tears. Geri was inconsolable in her grief in coming to realize too late that she could not keep her little baby duck little forever.
(Adapted from a story told by John Boy Walton in a scene from The Homecoming: A Christmas Story)
This story serves as a parable for what has been occurring in Grand Haven. Grand Haven is the little baby duck. And City govenment for the past 50 + years have been squeezing the little duck a little bit harder every day in a vain attempt to keep the duck little forever.
Time to give it up Geri! Let Grand Haven spread its wings and grow! You might want to keep Grand Haven in a time warp as AtomicRooster stated but a lot of us want to join the rest of the modern world that live in the 21st century.


So where will you be moving too?


Why is maintaining a green space/median so old fashioned? Cascade Township (a thriving and affluent suburb of Grand Rapids) just went so far as to install one on 28th Street.

A city is not a biological creature and it will not die if residents resist changes that have not been demonstrated as necessary.

Back to the Wall

According to some theorists a social community is born, lives, and dies in a manner closely parallel to a biological lifeline.

The Man Vs the State, with Six Essays on Government, Society, and Freedom - Herbert Spencer - 1860
Social Disorganization Theory - as applied by Park and Burgess in “The City” – 1925

I am in agreement that a community cannot thrive in the face of bureaucratic micromanagement; however a community does not require unlimited geography to grow and remain healthy.

The median has nothing to do with the ongoing health and vitality of Grand Haven. It is a matter of aesthetics, traffic maintenance and bureaucratic politics.

Does it add a quality of life? As perceived by some of the residents.
Is it perceived as a traffic issue? Perhaps, to some passersby.
Is it a maintenance liability? Certainly.

If the success of the community depends on a median, the median is the least of its problems.


One of the comments to this article said, "Walk a few blocks to a traffic light"! Has the person that posted that comment ever tried to cross the street in question at the light at Jackson Street! That intersection is so wide, it is next to impossible to get all the way across with in the time that the light allows! For this reason, it is safer to cross at Fulton & 31 with the present way the road is constructed. There is a walk sign now and it is easy to cross there. Much of this traffic is local traffic and has nothing to do with the proposed M-231 By Pass.


the new highway going east of us connecting grand haven and nunica, isnt that suppose to help ease congestion thru our city ? sounds like the state likes to spend money they don't have by tearing up our median, more government waste


Keep the median/boulevard like it is. It's not that big of a deal driving through the city now. If they leave it alone, maybe more will take the bypass that is being built. The thought of pavement and new traffic lanes in place of the trees and grass is going to make it look like every other city in the area.


Pathetic is thinking you need more crappy stores, crappy parking lots and more drive lanes filled with more cars. The big box era will soon be dead with internet shopping. Then you'll have even more empty shitty big box things as your image of community rather than a beautiful parkway. How about letting the bypass get done and see how traffic is then. Light timing is far more effective than building more lanes.
Better yet, how about a 6 lane bypass along the beach-who needs all that sand that just gets in your shoes when you're walking your fat ass through Walmart.

Barry Soetoro

Best thing I read all day. I agree - just look at Holland starting at the Outlets and heading north.


Do you remember when that was all tulip fields???? What a crap view that was. Empty parking lots and empty stores are awesome!!!!!


Oh well, for what it is worth, progress and/or bigger is not always better. Today West Michigan is that special place because of what and how we live. Ottawa county is today mostly a safe and conservative environment for raising a family. However increasing the numbers of lanes on U.S. 31 will only increase the numbers of vehicles, speed and flow of traffic and even auto accidents, probably bottlenecking the traffic at our wonderful drawbridge.
The End will be a negative effect on the community of Grand Haven and the local communities threatening those who are today pedestrians, and bicyclists. U.S. 31 today, tomorrow 104. I hope the local governments of Ferrysburg, Spring Lake, and the Townships will join the campaign with Grand Haven. Including our State Representatives in Lansing, if they are listening.

Creed Bratton

Life long resident of GH, here are 3 SIMPLE things to fix the "problem"

1. ALL TRUCKS MUST USE RIGHT LANE!- Put signs up enforcing this starting at Robbins Rd to Jackson street- I can't tell you how many times trucks in are in both lanes. Trucks that ride in the left lane that never turn. Just clog up traffic. Enforce this.

2. ADD TURN LANES IN THE MEDIAN AT PARK STREET AND CLOSE THE WOODLAWN INTERSECTION.- Cars waiting to turn on these two streets from the highway usually end up sticking out into the actual highway and backing traffic up. Close the WOODLAWN intersection, and add turn lanes on park going north and south. These two intersections are usually half the problem with the traffic backups. And they are the only intersections without turning lanes.

3.TIME THE STINKING LIGHTS PROPERLY. - Why can I catch green lights all the way from Jackson to Grant then I start hitting red lights. Someone didn't do their job correctly a few years ago.

City of Grand Haven, take my advice, fix these three small issues and you will be happy.

Barry Soetoro

4. Weld the drawbridge shut.


AMEN brother.


To your point if trucks passing through now began using M231 (someday) that would ease some of the slowdown, another bottle neck each morning are the folks trying to get to the middle school, there just isn't enough turn lane to accommodate the volume. Perhaps if the median were shortened at the north end it would allow traffic to sort out into three lanes earlier, right to turn on Jackson or go to SL, the two left lanes are through or those getting off at Ferrysburg. I like the charm of the median but not the traffic mess they cause…perhaps we could put off making a decision until the impact or lack of it an open M-231 has on the stretch from Hayes to Jackson and onward to the bridge. I for one will use it as it will shave miles and minutes off my commutes every day and add minutes to my life in reduced stress.

DO NOT get me started on light timing Grrrr…


When the bypass is done the trucks will be gone-get it?


yeah right. it would be nice if it were true though.


Maybe ask a truck driver which route he or she would take to get past GH, given the option. Don't take my lying, Obama loving word for it.


Lets figure it out by weighing pros and cons. I know obama supporters only look at the pros, but bear with me. Will a truck driver get off 31 and go down m45 to m231, get on m231 to m104 and then take 96 back over to 31 (or take 104 to 31) or will they say screw it and deal with the traffic on beacon? Do you still need to ask a truck driver what they would prefer? The ‘no trucks’ ploy on beacon was just a 231 selling point to the village idiots. What they need to do is figure out how many of the trucks going North through GH end up getting on 96east, those will be the easy ones to get off beacon, the rest will contiue to use it.


He (or she) won't take the bypass if you jamb another *#!+/!!highway through the middle of one of the nicest small towns in America. And no, we don't need to ask a trucker, you solved it for us! Oh yes, and everyone is an idiot that doesn't march along lock step with you and all the Dittoheads of the world. If you can say it, it is the truth-right on Sarah!



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