Norway hears proposal to reduce U.S. 2 to three lanes
By LISA M. REED
NORWAY – Approximately 50 Norway business owners and concerned residents attended an informational meeting of Norway City Council Monday to hear a proposal to reduce the city’s main highway from four lanes to three lanes.
Ray Sharpe of Houghton County Community Health presented information on “road diets.”
He said a road diet is where the road is reduced from four lanes to three lanes (center turn lane).
At 15,000 vehicles or less per day, statistics show the Average Daily Traffic had good results for safety, operators and livability.
Sharpe said U.S. 2 in Norway has a ADT count of 10,300.
“It’s easier for people to walk to school, church, shop and not feel like they are on a driving race,” Sharpe said regarding a three lane highway with a center turn lane.
Right-sizing benefits include more stop and shop for pedestrians and two lanes of traffic going in the same direction.
Sharpe said the city has to come to a consensus on how to design the road, so that people will slow down. He said if the city is split 50/50, they should not do it.
Norway area residents and business owners voiced their concerns at the meeting.
Lori Turri of Turri Tax and a Vulcan resident was concerned about when vehicles are pulled over by police, accidents on the roadway and having enough room to move over for emergency vehicles.
She commented local residents look for alternate routes and traffic will be routed to residential areas. She said this will hurt the economy, businesses and the U.S. 2 corridor.
Carol Sundstrom of Waucedah Township commented that a reduction in traffic lanes is the best thing for the community and the city as the downtown is withering away.
Lynn Schultz of Talon’s in Norway was totally against any change to the traffic pattern.
“People won’t be able to get out of my business. If you do this, I think a lot of small businesses will suffer. What will snowplows do?,” she asked.
Gary Zeman of Norway voiced his concern of the speed limit and semi and logging trucks.
Lou Steigerwald, superintendent of Norway-Vulcan Area Schools and a Vulcan resident, said the proposed “road diet” was in line with Safe Routes to School. He encouraged city residents and council members to go to a town where this type of lane reduction was performed.
Mary Dierkens asked if reducing lanes from four to three will guarantee the traffic speeds will decrease.
Mayor Jeremy Oja told her there is no guarantee on that.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” she said.
Gail Galotta of Waucedah Township said the top two issues are safety and convenience.
“Respect the research. It’s worth the inconvenience to make it safer for all citizens and to make the town look nicer and not having four lanes of traffic coming through,” she said. “Five feet (on each side) can make a difference physically, aesthetically and safety.”
Council has until Aug. 30 to make a decision on whether to have the highway re-stripped as two lanes with a center turn lane or leave it as is with four lanes.
Business owners and residents are encouraged to contact council members to let them know what they prefer. The ultimate decision on this issue is up to the council.
The idea of a road diet on U.S. 2 came about to lower speeds through the community and to make walking, not biking, safer along the highway.
No action was taken on the issue Monday night.
Following the informational meeting, council approved the following:
– Resolution 2013-17 general appropriations act and 2014-18 fiscal year 2013-14 operating and capital improvements budget. The budget reflects the council’s collective desire to establish a progressive framework for predicting and allocating scarce resources. A total of $2,459,917 is available to appropriate in the general fund.
– Resolution 2013-19 in order for MDOT to approve the city’s final application in support of the MDOT Safe Routes to School program, which removes the capped liability amount.
Lisa M. Reed’s e-mail address is email@example.com.