Petition spurs discussion of Heydenreich Road dangers

By: Thomas Franz | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published November 22, 2016

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Following the death of a Dakota High School student Nov. 4, a group of concerned parents sparked discussion for how to make Heydenreich Road safer.

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.

Citing poor lighting, a lack of connecting sidewalks and a high speed limit, Rebecca Jones, a parent to five children in Chippewa Valley Schools, started an online petition for a safer road near the high school.

“The sidewalk issue has been voiced by concerned residents to the board in the past and continues to be a problem,” Jones said. “A lack of lighting has been an issue in Macomb Township for as long as I can remember.”

Jones’ petition states that the 50 mph speed limit on Heydenreich between 21 and 22 Mile should be reduced to 35 mph at all times, not just designated school zone times.

The petition, which can be found on change.org, was started the week of Nov. 7. In less than a week, nearly 2,000 people had signed the petition online.

“The immediate goal is increased awareness, at the least,” Jones said. “We’d love to ultimately see more buses, street lights, flashing school signs, crosswalks and crossing guards. Reduced speed would be a great start.”

Realizing the need for the road improvement, Chippewa Valley Schools Superintendent Ron Roberts, Macomb Township Supervisor Janet Dunn, new Department of Roads Director Bryan Santo and Macomb County Deputy Executive Mark Deldin held a meeting Nov. 16 to discuss options for the road.

Roberts said that from the district’s perspective, the slower speed limit would be a reasonable first step.

“Macomb Township has changed over the years. Not that long ago, it was a rural farming community, and all of a sudden, a lot of houses were put up,” Roberts said. “I’m not sure that the roads in the area, that they’ve been able to keep up with the infrastructure to make the roads safe with that many people living there.”

Santo said his department his aiming to coordinate with the township to conduct speed studies in the area.

“Speed studies take into account many different factors, including the current speed and any unusual circumstances with excess pedestrian traffic,” Santo said. “That goes to the Michigan State Police for their approval as far as determining speed limits at any particular roadway.”

Dunn expressed her condolences to the families involved in the crash, and said she believes that poor lighting is more of a problem for pedestrians in that area, as opposed to connecting sidewalks.

“I realize there are a lot of people out there who are very upset and I agree, it’s very unfortunate that two young people have been killed in that area,” Dunn said. “I really don’t know what could be done, other than the street lights, and those are very expensive and someone has to maintain them. It would likely have to be an agreement between the township and school district.”

Dunn and Santo confirmed that the township is solely responsible for sidewalks and street lights, while the state police would have the final say on lowering the road’s speed limit based on a recommendation from the county department of roads.

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