MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — A petition that is against the city of Muskegon’s ongoing “road diet” study has garnered over 600 signatures.
The study, which is split into two phases, reduces a stretch of Shoreline Drive from four lanes to one in each direction for a period of time. The city collects data on traffic flow, driver behavior, safety concerns and accessibility both in and out of the city for pedestrians and bicyclist.
Cheryl Wittenburg started the moveon.org petition. She said the pilot program was both a waste of taxpayers’ money and a major disruption for commuters going in and out of the city.
“Take a look at these roads. Semis go through here and they bump so loud that you can feel them inside your house,” Wittenburg said. “This is only one example. We have many, many roads just like every other municipality in the U.S. that need to be addressed prior to doing pie-in-the-sky, utopian type of whatever.”
The second phase of the study started in July. Muskegon Director of Public Works Dan VanderHeide said it should be complete by the end of September.
“One of the things as we as the city have come to understand is that the downtown and our waterfront are separated by Shoreline Drive,” VanderHeide said. “We would love for our waterfront portion of our community and the downtown portion of our community to feel connected to each other.”
VanderHeide said the city has no predetermined notion of what the pilot will show. And while the $100,000 program is pricey, the data collected could help city officials improve transportation and accessibility for decades to come, according to VanderHeide.
“We would just beg the community’s tolerance, I guess, while we perform some data science to back up our ideas and their ideas,” he said.
Wittenburg said the lane closures have been confusing for drivers and could create a major obstacle for first responders.
“God forbid there should be a catastrophic event,” she said. “How are you going to get police and ambulances and safety vehicles in on one lane?”