2014-05-22 / Front Page

Changes Proposed For State Street

To enhance public safety downtown, the St. Ignace crosswalk committee wants to add a new crosswalk near the Star Line and Shepler’s boat docks close to the Driftwood Restaurant and another near City Hall and the IGA. The committee also seeks to eliminate the crosswalk where the I-75 business spur reaches downtown at the south end of the district. At a notably dangerous spot, pedestrians must cross four lanes at the Yshaped corner just past the curve there. The speed limit there is 35 miles per hour. Many vehicles take the curve at a higher rate of speed.

A lack of passenger service by Arnold Transit so far this summer has pushed pedestrian traffic to Shepler’s and Star Line ferry docks at the north end of downtown. The increase in traffic and lack of an official crossing there worries police and city officials. So far, there have been no injuries.

“We have been lucky,” said St. Ignace Police Chief Mark Wilk.

“You’ve got to give the people somewhere to cross, or they will just cross anywhere,” said City Manager Les Therrian.

Committee members agreed this is exactly what is happening.

The committee is focusing only on the eight crosswalks in the downtown district. Adding two more would cost about $2,000 at most for work such as cutting sidewalks to facilitate curb ramps for wheelchairs and to help foot traffic.

Deb Evashevski, Director of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), will discuss the committee’s opinion with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), which will make the decision because North State Street is a state trunk line. Once precise locations and costs are determined, the committee will make its recommendation to the city council, which is expected to take up the matter in June. Mr. Wilk supports the request. If approved by MDOT, the project is likely to be done no earlier than August.

Whether signs are to be placed at each walk has not been decided. There are already signs at either end of downtown signaling crosswalks for the next three miles. MDOT discourages adding signage. When there are too many, they tend to be ignored by drivers as a form of “white noise,” Chief Wilk said. To be effective, signs should be placed only where absolutely necessary. The city has taken this position on signage throughout the area for several years, he said.

Removing the crosswalk at the Y intersection involves grinding away the paint. Adding new crossings is a matter of new painting. Mrs. Evashevski pointed out that the city now has a more elaborate marking style that calls attention to the crossings better than the two-line method once used.

Chief Wilk pointed out that traffic must stop once pedestrians are in the crosswalk. Drivers have the right of way and do not have to stop for people waiting to cross. There are no signs informing the public of that fact. In some states, however, traffic is required to stop for pedestrians waiting to cross at designated crosswalks.

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