New pedestrian signs, seasonal refuge island in Traverse City area considered a success

Contact: James Lake, MDOT Office of Communications
906-250-0993
Agency: Transportation

Safety benefits:
- Installation of additional signs at crosswalks without signals along US-31 (Grandview Parkway) helps increase awareness for the safety of pedestrians and motorists.
- A seasonal pedestrian refuge island at the Discovery Center - Great Lakes in Greilickville allows people crossing M-22 to pause while crossing and focus on one direction of traffic at a time. The island can be removed so it is not a hazard to vehicles in winter months.

New signs for pedestrians and drivers installed this summer at the US-31 (Grandview Parkway) crosswalk near the intersection of North Oak Street in Traverse City.

Grandview Parkway crosswalk – New signs for pedestrians and drivers were installed this summer at the US-31 (Grandview Parkway) crosswalk near the intersection of North Oak Street in Traverse City.

October 10, 2017 -- The Traverse City area sees a lot of motor vehicle traffic, and a lot of pedestrian traffic, particularly during warmer months. Initiatives put in place on US-31 and M-22 this summer seem to be working just as intended: making crossing these highways safer and easier for pedestrians.

On June 22, a new seasonal pedestrian island, the first of its kind in Michigan, was installed at the Discovery Center - Great Lakes on M-22 in Greilickville. Rotary Camps and Services, which owns the Discovery Center, paid for the island and its installation after consultation with the Michigan Department of Transportation's (MDOT) Traverse City Transportation Service Center (TSC) and Elmwood Township officials.

The island allows visitors to the center, which has activities on both sides of the highway, to pause while crossing M-22 and focus on one direction of traffic at a time. Rotary Camps and Services Executive Director Marsha Smith said the seasonal island exceeded her organization's expectations.

"Two grandparents were overheard talking at a local restaurant about the Discovery Center and the Great Lakes Children's Museum. They were so glad that the pedestrian island was there so they could safely take their grandkids to the park after playing at the museum," Smith said. "We look forward to collecting data on it during a full season of operation in 2018."

Later in June, in cooperation with the City of Traverse City, MDOT installed additional signs for both pedestrians and drivers at three locations along US-31 (Grandview Parkway): Elmwood Avenue, Oak Street, and Hall Street. The combination of signs urge pedestrians to wait for safe gaps in traffic to cross, and remind drivers of their responsibility to yield to pedestrians already in the crosswalk.

Traverse City Planning Director Russ Soyring said the city had received complaints from citizens for years about difficulty crossing Grandview Parkway to get to the city's waterfront.

"The in-street, 'Yield to Pedestrians' signs installed by MDOT have made a marked improvement on making Traverse City's public waterfront more accessible," Soyring said. "Since the signs have been installed, numerous compliments have been received thanking us for making the community more walkable. Thank you, MDOT!"

At all three locations, the current yellow signs with a pedestrian silhouette were replaced with signs including a red "yield" sign, an arrow, and pedestrian silhouette. They are complemented by yellow signs posted at street level reminding drivers to yield to pedestrians within the crosswalk. For pedestrians, there are signs advising them to "Look – Wait for a safe gap in traffic – Cross road with caution." This combination of signs more closely matches those the city uses on local streets, providing more consistency for pedestrians and drivers in the area.

Because the seasonal pedestrian island can be a nuisance for snowplowing operations or a hazard for vehicles, it will be removed for the winter months and reinstalled in the spring. The signs mounted on the roadway at the three crossings on Grandview Parkway will also be removed for the winter, as they would likely be damaged by snowplows.