PEDESTRIAN SAFETY AND THE NEED FOR AN OVERHAUL IN DOWNTOWN INDIAN RIVER
The Indian River Area attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. We have yet to successfully and consistently entice that traffic for economic development into our downtown area due in large part to unfriendly pedestrian conditions. After completing the 2014 Pathway Project (Inland Lakes Schools to Burt Lake State Park to the North Central Recreational Trail) we have noticed a tremendous increase in pedestrian traffic. The majority of the foot traffic seems to stay on the south end of town. This project would provide more inviting, safer, and well-lighted sidewalks that would enhance the overall connectivity and ability to walk in our community.
In our preliminary design we have proposed several bump outs at intersection to aid in safe pedestrian crossings and traffic calming. Research by he National Traffic Safety Association has shown an alarming spike in pedestrian fatalities related to motor vehicle traffic in the last decade while all other traffic deaths decreased over the same period. Pedestrians now account for a larger proportion of traffic fatalities than they have in the last 33 years. The proposed remedy is to engineer better roads, with better lighting and safer sidewalks and crosswalks. In short, rework the infrastructure with every user in mind.
Being a tourist town, we welcome visitors from the State Park to walk downtown, as well as motorists exiting I-75, to shop our community. We also encourage our school age children to walk to and from school. Consequently, we bear a certain amount of responsibility for pedestrian safety.
The DDA has worked hard to put together a well-conceived and widely accepted street design. With the assistance of Beckett & Rader and OHM Advisors we have proposed a design that has been accepted and endorsed by the Cheboygan County Road Commission and for the most part the public-at-large. Our design includes safety buffer zones on both sides of the sidewalk between vehicular traffic and behind the curb parking lots. It includes bump outs at the intersections for safer pedestrian crossing and a hybrid lighting design combining overhead street lighting with lower pedestrian/sidewalk lighting. The DDA has applied for two different grants to assist in financing the project and has submitted a pre-application with the USDA/Rural Development for a 30 year bond to be repaid with captured taxes from the Tuscarora Township Downtown Development Authority was established.
Please feel free to contact the township offices or any of the DDA board members with your questions or concerns.
Click here to view aerial view of plans