Road commission hears from public, board to meet
by BETH ALTENA
People spoke up on both sides of the proposed widening of Ten Mile Road from the Rockford Meijer driveway to Childsdale. Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) Director of Engineering Wayne Harroll met with residents Thursday, March 31 at Resurrection Life Church. The meeting was the second-to-last chance for the public to offer their input before the construction begins in July.
Harroll said the KCRC had three choices regarding Ten Mile Road up to the Rockford City entrance. “We could do nothing, make it a three-lane or a five-lane,” Harroll said to residents.
Harroll said the road already exceeds the number of vehicles daily for a three-lane road (15,000 per day or fewer for a safe three-lane) and the commission believes expanding to a five-lane road with two paved bike/pedestrian paths will accommodate traffic through the next 20 years. In 2010 there were 22,225 vehicles per day on the section of road under consideration.
“In 2030 we estimate 33,025 vehicles per day,” Harroll said.
From January 1, 2005 to December 2009 there were 159 accidents, 55 of which were rear-end. This indicates a need for a left-turn lane, Harroll said.
Resident input on the plan that came from a July 13, 2010 meeting led the KCRC to alter the original plan by adding a four-foot paved pedestrian/bike path on each side of the road and not having Ten Mile completely closed during parts of the construction. Responding to feedback, a traffic signal at Childsdale was also added.
The home at 273 Ten Mile qualifies for historic preservation, although it is not currently designated historic, according to the State Historic Preservation Office revue, and Harroll said he had to guarantee the mature trees in that home’s yard would not be removed as part of this project. He said environmental assessments were performed to make sure a minimum of wetlands was affected and that no endangered or threatened species would be affected by the project.
Harroll said a sound study showed that 19 of 21 sites studied did exceed the recommended sound limit of 66 decibels, but the cost of mitigation, at $40,640 per residence, was not reasonable or feasible. Harroll said the problem with containing sound was that the homes affected had driveways onto Ten Mile, so a wall or berm would not be very effective at blocking sound.
Wolven Avenue will be widened to accommodate a 200-foot left-turn lane and a right-turn lane and will be completely closed at Ten Mile during that phase of the project. He said eastbound traffic would be directed to detour to Eleven Mile and Summitt.
When asked if there was any chance to cancel the entire project, Harroll said he believed the KCRC considers the work valid and necessary. He confirmed a boulevard was considered at one time for the stretch of road, but the environmental impact would be greater as well as the cost. The job has been on KCRC’s “to do” list because it is a primary county road. The project is being funded by federal money ($1.6 million) and KCRC ($1 million).
“When it is built, it is ours to maintain,” Harroll said.
The speed limit, Harroll said in response to a question, is ultimately determined by the Michigan State Police, who use the 85th rule. They measure speeds on the road with 100 being the highest and 1 being the lowest and set the limit at the speed that falls on the 85th percentage. Currently the speed is 55 until the City limits, where it falls to 35.
Harroll said many of the project’s naysayers believe more vehicles will use the road because of the added lanes, but said people use the road because they need to, regardless of lanes. He also said the KCRC is aware of the possibility of a sports complex coming to the area and plan a driveway for that opposite Wolven Avenue.
The last chance the public will have to comment on the project is the Kent County Road Commission board meeting at their office at 1500 Scribner in Grand Rapids. The meeting will be Tuesday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m.