2016-09-29 / Views

Let’s talk about new path for M-22

our opinion

We’re intrigued by the thought of moving M-22 inland in Greilickville.

We’re not totally on board, but that’s to be expected so early in what promises to turn into a years-long process of addressing traffic concerns along a corridor commonly known as the Gateway to Leelanau County.

Leaders in Elmwood Township, including the presumptive next township supervisor, Jeff Shaw, have been tossing around the thought that walkers and bikers might better utilize the state highway corridor that closely follows the shoreline of West Grand Traverse Bay.

M-22, the road that means “Leelanau County” to thousands of people, would in turn be rerouted behind properties owned by businesses along the state highway. Mr. Shaw happens to own one of those businesses. We trust that he will separate business and public interests, and we will be reporting on the process as it unfolds.

Exact dimensions are a ways off, but M-22 would need to return to its historic route somewhere south of Cherry Bend Road. Conveniently, Elmwood Township owns the properties south of and across from the township marina, and wouldn’t mind creating easier access to its holdings.

To be frank, the concept of rerouting a major state highway is ... exciting. Such infrastructure, in place for generations, usually defines a community. Instead, Greilickville has a chance to redefine itself. So there is a “wow” factor.

More importantly in our eyes, there is now a discussion about the biggest traffic bottleneck in Leelanau County — and that discussion promises to leave everything on the table. For years we’ve been railing that traffic at the intersection of M-22 and M-72 continues to worsen, with none of the major players actively searching out a solution.

To be sure, the concept of rerouting M-22 has the potential to die a glorious death after having hundreds of thousands of dollars in studies laid at its feet.

Land eyed for the new highway is swampy, as was most of Greilickville at the time settlers who had never heard the word “wetland” laid out a route for what would become M-22.

We’re talking about finding agreement among private landowners, the state of Michigan, Elmwood Township and a cadre of nonprofits. A monumental task.

And rerouting M-22 in Leelanau County isn’t enough. A traffic solution needs to fix the natural bottleneck created by having M-22 and M-72 meet at the county line and converge onto West Grandview Parkway.

Maybe that’s impossible.

Or maybe it will take the world’s largest roundabout. Wouldn’t that draw a big crowd to a public hearing?

It was Mr. Kelly who years ago began quietly discussing the thought of a major makeover along the waterfront. Mr. Shaw won the Republican Primary Election and is the only candidate seeking to replace Supervisor Kelly, so he’ll be the next major player.

Now the concept is out in the open, ripe for public input. We suggest readers contact Mr. Kelly or Mr. Shaw to offer opinions.

Or write a letter to the editor to converse with your neighbors.

Let’s talk about it.

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