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My following letter appeared in the Mining Journal on 25 May 2001
The Mining Journal
249 W. Washington St.
Marquette, MI 49855
The 1 May Mining Journal headlines read, "Marquette aims to slow traffic on Pine Street." I am very disappointed to see our City Commission tentatively approve the placement of one or more stop signs on Pine as a result of a few individuals' requests. I feel our Commission is micro managing and politicizing a process that should be first addressed by our City administration, particularly the Traffic Advisory Committee. Can you imagine what the traffic flow will be like in Marquette if citizens continue to directly petition the Commission for stop signs, etc., with or without justification, and be granted their requests?
So what is the Commission's message to the Traffic Advisory Committee - they're not needed or don't know what they're doing? One Commissioner told me the Traffic Advisory Committee was not consulted because they so frequently say no to stop signs. Huh? I thought it was the committee's job to study and recommend traffic controls based on objective data. What about the City Police and Engineer who are very involved in traffic flow? Also, if there is a speeding problem (which there isn't), is the Commission subtly telling the police they're incapable of slowing down traffic by ticketing speeders?
Michigan has three very clear guidelines for stop sign placement, called warrants, which are based on accident rates, traffic, and pedestrian traffic. I checked on the Pine Street traffic statistics and was also told by a Traffic Advisory Committee member that Pine Street doesn't even come close to meeting any of the warrants. Yet the Commission gave this Committee instructions to come up with locations for from one to three stop signs, which shows it is a political issue, not one based on facts. Michigan guidelines state stop signs should never be used to slow down traffic. Besides, speeding on Pine is no worse than on most other City streets. Ironically, it's been proven that accidents often increase when stop signs are installed.
Commission traffic tampering is not new. Third Street and Front streets were changed from one-way to two-way, but I believe most people didn't want the changes. Now reaction time to cross Third is often under 2 seconds due to limited visibility and having to watch both ways. Following those changes, ongoing political forces then directed placement of stop signs to interrupt the Front street traffic flow. As a result, drivers who don't want to stop unnecessarily use Pine. Now the City Commission wants to stop that. Why? Frankly, I don't want stop signs on Pine to stop traffic unnecessarily, wasting my time, brakes, and costly gasoline for no good reason and maybe even increasing accidents. Let's manage our traffic flow in Marquette more professionally, and not by knee-jerk reactions.
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