2016-09-15 / Front Page

Move over, M-22, to nearby Trail

Big plans will help with traffic
By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff

What was once considered a “cockamamie idea,” to swap locations of M-22 and the Leelanau Trail as they traverse Greilickville, is now being referred to as the “Visionary Alternative Route,” according to Elmwood Township Supervisor Jack Kelly.

Over the course of the next decade, the concept could result in creation of a broad “greenbelt” along the West Grand Traverse Bay waterfront in the southeast corner of Leelanau County by rerouting state highway M-22 (S. West Bay Shore Drive) along a path currently taken by the Leelanau Trail, and rerouting the non-motorized trail closer to the shoreline.

The change might also solve persistent traffic problems near the intersection of M-22 and M-72 that will only get worse and lead to gridlock within 10 years unless something is done, according to a recently completed traffic study authorized by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Kelly said that at a meeting last week of the Greilickville Commercial Corridor Task Force, some 16 “stakeholders” and officials in attendance agreed it was time to “go public” with an idea that many of them have been discussing over the past year, sometimes meeting as a group known as “Crew 22.”

The “Crew 22” group includes a number of private business and property owners along M-22 as well interested public officials acting in a private capacity. The Greilickville Commercial Corridor Task Force, on the other hand, is a public body that last met on March 2, 2015. The task force has held 14 public meetings since it was formed in January 2010.

Kelly reported that officials of the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as well as the Leelanau County Road Commission were in attendance at the Sept. 8 Task Force meeting. Also in attendance were representatives of a number of private property owners along the corridor, engineering consultants and environmentalists.

The supervisor said that re-routing M-22 and the Leelanau Trail through Greilickville could easily cost $20 million and take up to a decade just to plan. Needed would be appropriate permits, easements and funding. Numerous intermediate steps may be taken in the meantime to make M-22 safer and more accessible for pedestrians and motorists alike, Kelly added.

Kelly said the Task Force last week appointed a subcommittee to look at those near-term measures. The subcommittee consists of Mike Wills of the Great Lakes Discovery Center, Patty O’Donnell of the Michigan Department of Transportation, Elmwood Township Supervisor-designate Jeff Shaw, and Gourdie-Fraser engineering consultant Heather Harris-Brady. The group’s immediate task will be to explore “access management” for the corridor.

One of the concepts discussed at last week’s meeting included the seasonal installation of raised median crossings — pedestrian “refuge islands” — at key points along M-22 in Greilickville to facilitate safer pedestrian crossing of the state highway.

The installation of “refuge islands” on the state highway would require the elimination of a number of curb cuts on M-22 that provide access to properties on either side of the highway. Another issue the committee may look into is the connection of parking lots serving some properties on the west side of M-22 so neighboring properties can be accessed without re-entering M-22.

Kelly pointed out that many of the proposed changes are being driven by the recent acquisition by Rotary Charities of what is now being called “Discovery Pier,” the old Traverse City Light & Power Coal Dock, directly across from the Great Lakes Discovery Center, a collection of water-related non-profit organizations.

The pier is located directly adjacent to the township’s Greilickville Harbor Park — which is directly across from the township-owned Brewery Creek property that provides overflow parking for the Elmwood Township Marina. Officials say that having so much publicly owned property in the area directly adjacent to property controlled by nonprofits eager to partner with the township will make hoped-for substantial changes in the area easier.

Kelly said that while the newly-formed “access management” subcommittee does its work, township officials will identify grant sources to pay for an initial conceptual plan for the “Visionary Alternative Route.” Currently, no drawings, maps or artists renderings of the concept exist. Kelly said he is hopeful the township can unveil very preliminary concepts in the month ahead.

Kelly said the “cockamamie idea” that Mike Wills and he began talking about last year privately with neighbors would likely take at least a decade to execute. He said the plan would affect about three-fourths of a mile of M-22 between the county line to the south and the township’s Brewery Creek property to the north – as well as the 600 feet to 1,600 feet between M-22 and the Leelanau Trail that roughly parallels the Greilickville waterfront.

Julie Clark, the executive director of Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Trails, Inc., which owns and operates the Leelanau Trail, said she had spoken several times with Kelly about the idea.

“We think it’s a pretty exciting idea that’s definitely worth looking into,” Clark said.

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OMG! $20 million dollars for

OMG! $20 million dollars for 3/4 of a mile. I have a better idea, let's just repave our damn roads that we have now. I'm tired of busted shocks and springs and these folks want to build a new road??? Let's just take care of what we have now! And Jack,it is a “cockamamie idea”!