Heydenreich Road speed study moves forward

By: Thomas Franz | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published November 29, 2016

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — After a meeting between Macomb County, Macomb Township and Chippewa Valley Schools officials during the early morning of Nov. 16, a speed study that has already begun is the first of several potential steps to address safety concerns for students who walk to school near the intersection of Heydenreich Road and 21 Mile Road.

Plans for the study began shortly after the death of a Dakota High School student Nov. 4.

The student was struck by a vehicle around 7 a.m. Nov. 4 while she was crossing Heydenreich near Vine Drive, which is in between 21 Mile and 22 Mile roads. The speed limit on Heydenreich is 50 mph and is reduced to 35 in school zone areas.

“We want to make sure our kids have sidewalks that they can use to get to school. We also want to make sure that there is adequate lighting,” said Chippewa Valley Superintendent Ron Roberts.

The location of the fatal accident took place just north of where five schools are located. Cheyenne and Ojibwa elementary schools, Seneca middle school, Glen Peters and Dakota high schools are all located near the intersection of 21 Mile and Heydenreich.

The meeting occurred at 6:30 a.m. Nov. 16, so that officials could get a true feel of what traffic is like for drivers and pedestrians.

What came out of that meeting appears to be a three-pronged approach from the township, county and school district.

Bryan Santo, the new director of the Macomb County Department of Roads, said the speed study will occur at random times during normal traffic conditions in mid-morning and early afternoon hours.

Santo said studying traffic speeds during times when school begins and ends wouldn’t provide a proper perspective, since traffic is heavier and speeds are slower during those hours.

“It’s not just speed. There are other things — approaches coming onto the road, how many entrances there are, any pedestrian foot traffic they observe — so there’s different factors that go into it,” Santo said.

While foot traffic would be studied for when students are primarily inside the school buildings, Santo said that pedestrian traffic in early morning and late afternoon times would also be factored into the study.

From the township’s perspective, Supervisor Janet Dunn said the MCDR will assist the township with connecting the final pieces of sidewalk near the area of Dakota High School.

The township also plans to coordinate with the county on a potential education initiative to inform drivers and pedestrians who frequent the area.

“The county executive office and our office will coordinate and see what we can come up with, as far as educating people. You can’t go that fast in a school zone, and kids can’t be walking or running at (that) time of the morning in the dark,” Dunn said.

During a Nov. 21 Board of Trustees meeting, where several residents voice their concerns about Heydenreich, Trustee Dino Bucci requested that Jim Van Tiflin, the township engineer, meet with Dunn to begin a study on how much it would cost to install and maintain street lights on Heydenreich.

From the school district’s perspective, Roberts said Dakota could explore the possibility of modifying its parking lot to operate more efficiently and safely.

“We’re far from knowing exactly what we’re going to do,” Roberts said. “The parking lot, to me, is a secondary issue. This is more about the roads outside of our schools, and anything that would make it safer.”

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