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Township: Slow down Cass Ave., Romeo Plank

Dept. of Roads posts new speed limit on widened road

By: Heidi Roman | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published January 26, 2011

 Drivers on Cass Avenue from Moravian Road to Romeo Plank and on up to Hall Road will be able to go a little faster than in years prior. As the road was widened, the county Department of Roads is raising the speed limit from 45 mph to 50 mph, though the Clinton Township board isn’t pleased.

Drivers on Cass Avenue from Moravian Road to Romeo Plank and on up to Hall Road will be able to go a little faster than in years prior. As the road was widened, the county Department of Roads is raising the speed limit from 45 mph to 50 mph, though the Clinton Township board isn’t pleased.

Photo by Edward Osinski

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Traffic on Cass Avenue and Romeo Plank Road in Clinton Township has been unrestricted — and not just because there’s less congestion on the widened road. There’s been no posted speed limit since the construction project wrapped up a year ago.

But the Macomb County Department of Roads has kept its eye on drivers cruising along that stretch from Groesbeck to Hall Road, conducting a speed study that is finally complete. Soon, the Department of Roads will post the new speed limit: 45 mph from Groesbeck to Moravian on Cass Avenue, and 50 mph up to Hall Road on Romeo Plank.

The limit was posted at 45 mph the entire stretch before the widening. Not everyone is pleased about the increase.

“That’s way too fast,” said resident Dennis Beltz, who has lived off Cass Avenue for 35 years. “It was 45 (mph) when it was two lanes, but with the roundabouts, the schools and the subdivision outlets, 50 (mph) is way too fast.”

Beltz says he did his own test, driving with the flow of traffic.

“I was going 55 or 60 (mph) to keep up with traffic,” Beltz.

But Bob Hoepfner, interim director of roads, says the county’s speed study is quite accurate. It proved 50 mph is the speed that most people comfortably drive on that particular road. About 85 percent of them, to be exact.

“The speed at which 85 percent of the people are driving is what the speed is posted at,” Hoepfner said. “We pick times of the day, not rush hour, when traffic is moving freely and smoothly, and use a speed radar gun. We count as many vehicles as necessary to ensure the results are accurate.”

When unrestricted by a posted speed limit, most drivers from Moravian to Hall Road went 50 mph by their own choice.

That’s the universal method for determining speeds, even though many communities still scoff at increased limits.

The Clinton Township board doesn’t like it. The board was expected to vote on a resolution asking the Department of Roads to reconsider and post the limit at 45 mph the entire stretch.

“The roundabouts slow people down anyway,” said Township Supervisor Bob Cannon. “But it is a very short stretch from the (Moravian) bridge to the roundabouts, and going 50 (mph) over there is really accelerating pretty fast. There’s a lot of fast starting and fast stopping.”

Farther north on Romeo Plank Road, the once very windy road has been straightened out, but there are still some sharp curves, he said.

Cannon points out, and Belk agrees, that if the speed limit is posted at 50 mph, some drivers will chose to go 55 or 60 mph anyway.

“Americans have that cheater mentality,” Cannon said. “They figure out what they can go without getting a ticket.”

Hoepfner again disagrees, and so does the Michigan State Police Traffic Safety Division. People tend to drive at a comfortable speed, not at an automatic 5- to 10-mph increase over posted limits.

The vote on the resolution was expected Jan. 24, after the Chronicle went to press. Cannon believed it would pass, but wasn’t as confident that the board’s plea would make a difference in the fate of the road.

“I have not seen it work in any community,” he said.

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