City Council Considers Solutions to Henry Street Speeders

 01/23/2018 - 01:26

People are driving too fast on Henry Street.

But what’s the solution?

At Monday's work meeting, Saline City Council took its first look at Midwestern Consulting’s study of speed and vehicular and pedestrian volume.

In April, Midwest studied traffic on Henry Street, a mostly residential street that runs parallel to Michigan Avenue between Old Creek Drive and Monroe Street. They used tubes to determine the directional volume of traffic and the speed of vehicles. In October, Midwestern Consulting used traffic cameras to record all traffic at the intersection of Henry and Ann Arbor streets.

The worst speeding took place in the westbound lane of East Henry Street, between Ann Arbor Street and Old Creek Drive. Traffic was measured at 34 miles per hour - nine miles per hour faster than the speed limit. West of Ann Arbor Street, speed was measured at 29 miles per hour in both directions.

A study on the intersection of Henry and Ann Arbor Street showed traffic at the intersection met none of the the nine basic requirements for a traffic signal.

Midwestern Consulting did suggest potential speed mitigation measures, including:

  • Double lane striping along the center line of Henry Street, with striping for parking areas to narrow the lanes. It’s estimated this would reduce speeds by 2-3 MPH. It is the cheapest solution at $500-$1,000.

  • Reconstruct curbs and gutters at high speed intersections to include bumpouts. This would drop speeds by 1-2 MPH and cost $7-30,000 per location.

  • Install speed limit feedback signs (which show you how fast you’re going next to a speed limit sign). This can reduce speed limits by 1-2 MPH. Cost is up to $5,000 per sign, but Saline already has money for a portable sign in the budget.

  • Construct speed bumps. These reduce speeds by 2-3 MPH, overall, and 10-15 MPH at the bumps. But  there might be speed increases between the bumps. They cost $8,000 to $16,000 per bump.

Residents from the neighborhood attended an open house and talked to Midwestern Consultant engineers and city officials prior to Monday’s city council meeting. Several also spoke during council’s work meeting.

Linda Clark told council that she sees a lot of speeders while she’s out gardening. She believes they’re going faster than 29 miles per hour.

“Trying to stare people down doesn’t work,” she said.

She’s concerned about pedestrian safety.

“I walk my grandson to Pleasant Ridge Elementary School. Crossing Ann Arbor Street is an issue,” Clark said.

Julie Charney lives on East Henry Street. She took issue with some of the data presented.

“I think an additional study needs to be done. This study was conducted during spring break. There are 500 students at Pleasant Ridge and thousands more in Saline. Traffic is significantly reduced during spring break,” Charney said.

Charney wants to see more consideration to pedestrian safety. She said crossing at Ann Arbor and Henry can be dangerous.

Andrew Hatfield lives on West Henry Street. He raised several concerns about the data, including the spring break issues.

He also said that drivers slowed down before driving over the tubes.

“I’d like to see a study done with radar,” he said.

He said that he’s observed that cars going down hill travel faster than the cars going uphill.

“You need to spend a few minutes in front of our houses. Clearly, there’s a speed difference,” Hatfield said.

He added that he and a friend tested the tubes by driving 55 MPH over them - yet the data has no vehicles traveling over 50 MPH.

Councillors asked questions of Midwestern Consulting officials Michael Cool and Fisher. Councillor Janet Dillon said she thought many of the problems at the intersection occur because people seem unsure of the intersection.

“People don’t know what to do at the intersection until they’re at it. If they had a visual cue that they saw further back, perhaps that would help,” Dillon said.

Department of Public Works Director Jeff Fordice said that some north-south traffic appears to slow down in anticipation of a four-way stop sign. He suggested it might make sense to consider a flashing yellow light for Ann Arbor Street traffic and a flashing red light for Henry Street traffic.

Councillor Heidi McClelland, who lives on West Henry Street, said the city must decide what it wants. She said that while the intersection might not meet any of the nine standards for a signal, perhaps the city should have its own standard.

“I never let my children walk to school because I didn’t want them to cross North Ann Arbor Street by themselves,” McClelland said. “Even today, now that they’re teenagers, I still tell them to walk up to Michigan and cross at the light. So what do we need to do to make it more pedestrian friendly for the neighborhood and the businesses?”

Mayor Brian Marl said he expected the city would try some of the cheaper, easier alternatives, but expects the city to take a harder look at some other alternatives.

“Issues involving safety are of critical importance,” Marl said.

He suggested that one important part of the solution is traffic enforcement.

“For years Saline was known for being aggressive in its traffic enforcement. I was proud of that standard and I think it has declined a bit,” Marl said. “It was beneficial to the residents and I’d like to see greater police visibility in the coming years.”

City Council will discuss the issue at its Feb. 5 meeting.

 

Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore is owner of The Saline Post. Email him at tran@thesalinepost.com or call him at 734-272-6294

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Comments

Ron Mexico's picture

So do these citizens believe that Midwestern Consulting is incompetent and/or the data is inaccurate? It seems there is just some discontent because the hard data did not prove out the anecdotal feedback from residents.

In my experience, only 4-9 mph over the limit would actually make this one of the safest residential areas in downtown Saline. If we are really going to be concerned about speeding in the city, there are bigger problem areas like the highways that are Maple (north of Michigan Ave), Ann Arbor St. (north of Bennett), Old Creek Dr, Mills, etc. But I don't think a city council member lives on any of those streets so they probably won't get the same attention.

I think the real problem here is just perception. 25-30 mph visually just seems incredibly fast to a stationary pedestrian. These residents should perform their own test and watch a vehicle traveling at the 25 mph speed limit. It will seem very fast. I would bet the majority of these "speeders" they are complaining about are not actually speeding at all.

The real problem is that the legal 25 mph limit is just too high for many residential areas. Please don't waste any additional taxpayer money on more unnecessary tests or mitigations.

xtenm's picture

It was interesting to hear the above resident consider it a waste of time to measure or attempt to mitigate speeds on Henry Street. I have to respectfully disagree. My personal view is, too many people living in that area feel unsafe to make no effort at all. The number of residents who live on that street who have contacted city staff and shown up for informational meetings indicates something must be done. During the last city council work meeting, there was a discussion about data collection. The method isn't perfect, perhaps, but gave me enough information to back up the anecdotal stories of excessive speeding. 

I do personally agree that speeding happens on other major streets such as Maple and Ann Arbor -Saline Roads. I'm grateful that our city has its own police force that can help deter speeders. Some areas do not have enough funds to support their own force! I see our officers monitoring the roads and feel safer for it. 

Asa city council member, my duty as listening to residents' concerns, researching best practices, and spending public money in a responsible, efficient manner that works to the greatest benefit for all. I personally will be supporting traffic calming measures on Henry Street. We will have more meetings to discuss options and I encourage all residents to attend and give input. Please email me at cmitchell@cityofsaline.org for any reason. It is an honor to serve my hometown on city council-- thank you for the opportunity.