A speed limit sign appears along Viceroy Drive in Sterling Heights. The city said it plans to put pavement markings along Viceroy very soon that will post speed limits and encourage motorists to slow down.

A speed limit sign appears along Viceroy Drive in Sterling Heights. The city said it plans to put pavement markings along Viceroy very soon that will post speed limits and encourage motorists to slow down.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

City gets grant to fund traffic safety study

Roads like Ryan function as ‘a big racetrack’

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 22, 2023


STERLING HEIGHTS — While there’s no promise of Easy Street, Sterling Heights officials hope that an upcoming study on traffic safety will bring more order to the roads.

Sterling Heights City Manager Mark Vanderpool announced that Sterling Heights is getting $500,000 in federal grant money through the Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the grant is designed to prevent road-related fatalities and serious injuries.

Vanderpool, who called the grant “really good news,” said the city partnered with Macomb County to obtain it. He also thanked the City Council and Mayor Michael Taylor for their support, adding that Taylor personally requested funding from U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

Vanderpool said a traffic study is needed because some roads, like Ryan Road, function as “a big racetrack,” so a study can brainstorm ways to help the city’s roads function better for the next 50 years.

“The idea here is that we’re going to study our entire neighborhood road system, including major roads like Ryan Road, to figure out what needs to be done with our roadway system to calm traffic,” he said.

“As we know, there are many traffic issues throughout our city. We’re not unique; this is a problem across the country. But we need to do something in Sterling Heights.”

Vanderpool said the money will be used alongside ancillary funds the city already had to comprehensively study the city’s roads and streets to make them safer. He said the study will take months to complete.

Topics could include traffic enforcement, public education and traffic calming measures such as traffic circles, road-narrowing medians and speed humps or speed dots. Vanderpool added that the calming measures could make Sterling Heights friendlier to pedestrians and improve the city’s appearance.

One step the city is testing is painting road markings on the street, he said.

“We’re piloting this right now on Viceroy (Drive),” he said. “We’re actually painting the speed limit on the pavement. It’s very large — you can’t miss it,” he said. “We’re going to be studying this further in neighborhoods across the city through this study.”

Vanderpool later clarified at the meeting that it could take “a couple more weeks” to install the pavement markings, which he said use heat tape.

“This is a speed limit marking that will go on the pavement in numerous areas along Viceroy, and we’ll also say, ‘Slow down.’ So it’ll be very dramatic. Users will see it.”

Vanderpool said the study will also explore implementing a user-friendly way for residents to add their input in the review of neighborhood traffic problems. He said the goal is for easy access to the feature via the city’s website.

“You can request certain traffic calming measures that are part of our program, including, potentially, traffic circles, minicircles in neighborhoods on intersections that slow down traffic,” he said.

“We know stop signs aren’t the solution because vehicles can race from one stop sign to the next, exacerbating the problem.”

During public comment, resident Tom Szatkowski said he has noticed traffic issues with reckless driving and speeding on Viceroy.

“I’m very happy to see Mr. Vanderpool with his plans to fix our streets — very, very happy with that,” he said. “When they put in the speed limit signs on Viceroy, I had a big smile on my face.”

Resident Nathan Inks, from the city’s Sustainability Commission, also had during the meeting a traffic calming suggestion for possible study: planting trees along streets and medians.

“There are studies that show that increasing tree canopy along streets reduces speeding. Not only street trees, but also median trees,” Inks said. “If the city is looking at putting in a median on Ryan Road, especially, I think having some median trees there could be helpful.”

A city press release said the grant-funded study will also examine county roads in the city. Officials added that the study should be finished “within the next year,” and residents will be updated on its progress.

Learn more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489.