LETTER. Road Commission and Garfield Township trustees regarding Barlow Street

I recently read this article in the Ticker (http://www.traverseticker.com/story/officials-respond-to-safety-concerns-on-barlow) and I have a few comments and questions about the upcoming project on Barlow Street. Mr. Korn is quoted in the article as saying the township wants to “do it right” with regard to installing sidewalks on Barlow. I’m wondering what is the process for doing it right? There was no further information given about this in the article. Mr. Korn also said that there are some funds available for sidewalks and other things but that there’s not enough to install sidewalks throughout the township. I’d point out that the focus right now is on Barlow Street between Boon and S. Airport, not throughout the entire township. Right now, we just want to get sidewalks on Barlow.

This Ticker article also indicates that the plan is to widen the road to create a shoulder for people to walk on. I’m glad the township and/or road commission at least gave some thought to those walking along this street, but unfortunately it doesn’t do enough to solve this issue. For one thing it doesn’t help people who are walking during the winter months. In the winter people walking (or biking) are forced more into the roadway because any shoulders (currently gravel and crumbling asphalt) are covered with piles of snow. One very scary thing is if a big snow plow happens to come down the street while you are walking on it because there’s pretty much nowhere for you to go.

Another problem is the wider the street is, the more people seem to want to speed and drive less carefully. Therefore I want to urge you to use whatever funds you have, and any you can manage to find through grants, for sidewalks for this project on Barlow. If you must go forward without them, at the very least find some funding for painting the shoulders, not just with stripes but also symbols and maybe another color inside the shoulder-lane to indicate to drivers that they are for those who are walking and/or biking. Having the shoulder clearly delineated can help keep drivers over to the left. Possibly add some rumble strips to give drivers a wake up if they drift over into that area. Signs might help as well. Again, this doesn’t help people in the winter and the township really needs to find a way to do the sidewalks, but at least it would provide a little help during the rest of the year because, unfortunately, I don’t believe prayers are going to give people a safe place to walk along this street.

I want to point out, too, that although I live within the City of Traverse City, I do use Barlow for businesses and services located along it. I find it inconvenient and annoying that I have to get my car out just to go to the post office or a business along that street, but I know the danger of trying to ride a bike or walk down there. I used to live in the mobile home community off Barlow several years ago and at that time I didn’t have a vehicle so I walked and biked almost everywhere. I know from that experience that it’s very dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists on Barlow and I avoid it now that I do have a car. I remain very concerned for people who still need to use it to walk or bike to their destinations. People in the city as well as people in the township have an interest and stake in how Barlow Street is treated by both the city and the township.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Maxwell Wolf
Traverse City resident


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