Roundabout in Downtown Northville
May 21, 2019 PLYMOUTH VOICE.
Plymouth Michigan News
The debate about traffic circles is nothing new.
Recently members of the Northville Planning Commission unanimously approved a Planned Unit Development (PUD) submitted by Hunter Pasteur Homes CEO, Randy Wertheimer, for the construction of 53 homes, 183 town-homes and 300 apartments along with 18,000 square feet of retail space, a parking deck and parking lot. The dense new development will include land from Seven Mile road midway to South Center and from Seven Mile and River Street to Griswold and Cady. It also includes two parcels on the west side of South Center.
Last January, about 150 residents attended the meeting at Hillside School including business owners, and others interested in the proposed development. At recent public meetings some residents expressed concern about the capability of the current city infrastructure to meet the needs of another 1,000 residents. Others questioned the impact of additional students in the schools. Wertheimer since has requested a tax abatement of $9.5 million to cover the cost of environmental factors that need to be remedied at an estimated cost of $4.5 million as well as building 160 additional parking spaces that were not part of his original plan, estimated to cost another $5 million.
Now, as preliminary development plans unfold, residents have another concern to add to their list. The Hunter Pasteur Homes PUD plan calls for a traffic circle in downtown Northville. Traffic circles are often called roundabouts.
Independent engineering experts say in a busy town or city environment, roundabouts do not work well because excessive traffic from one direction with right of way can completely stop all other traffic causing congestion in other directions. Residents agree and say this is the case in Northville, with traffic on Sheldon at Seven Mile often backing-up to Six Mile Road during rush hour periods. They concede that other than in busy grid-locked towns and cities, traffic circles are a good solution to keep traffic moving.
City contracted engineers, OHM Advisors of Livonia, who presented an analysis of options for improved traffic flow-disagree, and claim that installing a roundabout at Seven Mile and Sheldon Road would be the best way to alleviate traffic congestion.
Neighboring residents who live close to the proposed roundabout say not only are traffic circles confusing and dangerous, but they don’t belong in the downtown Northville area.
Charles Gelletly, a retired engineer who lives in Northville’s Saint Lawrence Estates, says he grew up with roundabouts in Philadelphia and New Jersey and thinks they’re a great idea, but only where appropriate.
“They’ve been around for decades and work well in some places, but are not beneficial at the entrance to a small city, like Northville.”
Gelletly worries that with no traffic light there will be no place for pedestrians and bicyclists to safely cross the streets at the Seven Mile – Sheldon Road intersection.
“There are many persons crossing from the city, and from homes south of SevenMile, to walk into the city. Also many persons cross to go walking or biking in Hines Park and on the Sheldon Road Trail. With no traffic light there will be no break in traffic to allow cars to cross or pull onto Seven Mile or Sheldon Rd/Center Street near the intersection; especially from the new housing development, from Saint Lawrence Estates condominiums and from Wing Street and Hines Drive intersections.”
Gelletly’s concerns are that with no traffic light to control traffic flow, much of the north bound evening jam between Six Mile and Seven Mile will just be moved to between Seven Mile and Main Street, since there will be no periods for the cars to disperse into the city.
Wayne County is responsible the storm water reconfiguration and changes to Seven Mile Road, among other streets. The plan will now go the city council for discussion.