Royal OakSeptember 18, 2013
City says no need for Sixth and Main traffic signal
By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer
ROYAL OAK — One meeting after the City Commission declined to re-issue free parking permits to senior residents of Royal Oak Manor, City Engineer Matt Callahan said his office determined that there was no need for the installation of a traffic signal at Sixth and Main streets.
The city did a traffic study at the intersection seven years ago. Callahan wrote in his report to the commission that it failed to meet any of the criteria warranting a traffic light. He added that statistics show accidents there have decreased, and there is no indication that traffic on Sixth and on Main has increased.
Additionally, the Michigan Department of Transportation projected that it would cost the city $1 million to coordinate the new signal with the traffic lights and railroad-track barricades throughout downtown.
The commission requested the administration look into a traffic study Aug. 19. Residents of the Manor came to that meeting to request that the city re-instate free passes for street parking near their apartments, which it had done for eight years. The parking lot for the building is full.
The seniors said that making them pay $25 a month for parking at a lot at Sixth and Main is a financial burden and that forcing them to cross Main to where they live is dangerous.
When the commission declined to re-issue passes, it approved that the city should look into whether a traffic light at Sixth and Main would make it safer for the seniors who have to cross it.
The Manor had at least one Royal Oak resident on its side at the Sept. 9 meeting. Currently, there are signs in the middle of Main reminding drivers that they must yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, but Laura Harrison said drivers coming from Lincoln Avenue do not adhere to it.
“I have seen a lot of people not being able to get across Main Street because of not having a traffic light there — mostly seniors,” she said to the commission. “If Sixth and Main doesn’t meet the warrants, I don’t know what cross streets in Royal Oak does.”
Commissioner Kyle DuBuc questioned the city’s projection that a traffic study would not show any increase in pedestrian or automobile traffic.
He said there had been a lot of development near the intersection since 2006.
“There’s not reason to believe, then, that there would be a change in traffic on the side street?” he questioned.
Callahan said that the traffic increase required to call for installation of a signal would need to be a substantial jump from 2006, and there’s no proof of that based on the number of accidents at the intersection.
“Based on the study that was done in ’06, the traffic counts would have to jump quite incrementally to get to the point where a signal would be warranted,” Callahan said.
Callahan did say that they were studying other options for residents. He said the city is looking at other cities that have installed enhanced pedestrian crossings, which allow pedestrians to press a button at an intersection that triggers a red stop light.
Callahan said Ann Arbor had installed several throughout the city, but so far, they have been causing more incidents.
“There are issues with drivers who do not want to pay attention to the roadway or pay attention to the signs, and pedestrians that are emboldened to step into the lanes of traffic,” he said.
Mayor Jim Ellison said the city still needs to keep its eyes on alternatives for Sixth and Main.
“I think we are looking forward to the further results of the pedestrian crosswalks,” he said. “We still need to be looking at the intersection. There are issues that we need to address.”