Pleasant Ridge reviews resident petition to close Woodward Heights to through traffic

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published October 7, 2021

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PLEASANT RIDGE — Following a petition from residents on Woodward Heights, the Pleasant Ridge City Commission held a discussion on what could be done to quell concerns.

The petition the commission reviewed at its Sept. 14 meeting was a request to close “(Woodward Heights) at the east City boundary and just to the east of the Woodward alley,” a city document states. The petition was signed by 18 residents who, according to the city, represented 16 of the 65 homes on the street.

According to city documents, Pleasant Ridge’s traffic calming program allows residents to request changes to their streets on a petition basis. The petition made by those living on Woodward Heights didn’t meet this criteria because it wasn’t signed by a minimum of 50% of homes on the street and because street closures aren’t a traffic calming method.

City Manager James Breuckman reiterated those points during the meeting while also saying that closing a street might benefit one street in Woodward Heights, but it would be to the detriment of others.

“One of the likely outcomes of this is that traffic would move from Woodward Heights to other streets in the city,” he said. “We have to be cognizant of the fact that this request would likely benefit one set of residents at the expense of another set of residents, and that residents have made investment decisions on where they buy their houses based on conditions that exist today.”

Members of the commission felt that discussing a road closure was premature given that they hadn’t heard how the majority of residents on Woodward Heights would feel about it, as well as the rest of the city.

Commissioner Bret Scott added during the meeting that there’s a difference between closing a road and managing the trucks, and getting more information. He stated his concern that the commission was jumping ahead on this without more input from the residents, possibly through a survey.

I know there’s very passionate feelings from several people on Woodward Heights. I don’t know how every house on Woodward Heights feels and I don’t think we’ve given them the opportunity to describe how they feel to what has been proposed,” he said.

Howard Smith, a resident who lives on Woodward Heights, stated that when he moved into his home, he wasn’t aware that the street had as much traffic as it does, and that over the years it got worse and worse.

For Smith, the concern isn’t so much the cars driving on the road, but the trucks that pass through with their noise, smell and the ongoing damage to the street due to their weight.

“What we need to address on Woodward Heights is the trucks,” he said. “The pounding on the pavement, wrecking our road, causing foundation issues, it’s going to shift soil. You hammer the ground enough, it moves things a ways away. When you can feel it in your house, it’s because it’s moving the dirt around your house,” he said.

Smith said a barrier could be placed at the closed entrance of Woodward Heights that would allow cars to get through, but keep out trucks. He also advocated for a stop sign in the area to be moved.

Pleasant Ridge previously conducted traffic calming projects on Woodward Heights last year. A stop sign at north Bermuda Avenue was removed for a period of time before it was returned to its original location.

Brueckman told the Woodward Talk that the city had a traffic engineer study that stop sign a few years ago, and the recommendation was to move its location. It wasn’t something the city did when it placed the stop sign back last year after the testing period, but the commission voted Sept. 14 to move the sign for at least three months.

After three months, a survey will be conducted with all Pleasant Ridge residents to get their opinions about the change and to study the petition made by the residents on closing Woodward Heights to through traffic.

“Living near a stop sign creates some external impacts of noise, particularly when there’s trucks involved, and that was a lot of the complaints that we got,” he said. “This addresses part of that issue by just moving the stop sign, and then the rest of the issues on Woodward Heights, I don’t know, but we’ll do the survey. The immediate issue is we have a petition from residents to close the street and there’s a lot of other considerations that go around that, which is why we want to do the survey because that affects not just Woodward Heights residents, but everybody.”

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