How to slow M-15

BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Looking to slow down traffic on Main Street, the city could just take it over. That would probably be too expensive, though, said Planning Commissioner Frank Schoebel.
“Cost of ownership would be prohibitive. For myself, we can rule that out,” said Schoebel, who recommended starting with a meeting with MDOT to discuss short-term solutions such as a lower speed limit and truck diversion.
“We should leave taking over Main Street as a last resort,” said Planning Commissioner Sue Wylie at their Feb. 3 meeting.
City officials will meet with state Rep. Andrea Schroeder to discuss heavy truck traffic on Main Street on Friday, Feb. 14, at 10 a.m. at city hall.
Mayor Eric Haven said they also reached out state Sen. Rosemary Bayer, who responded, and to national representatives for help. U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin responded and they had a meeting with her.
“She was really very encouraging to us, with grant opportunities and options to show to the community,” Haven said.
Taking back the road would be pricey and a long-term project. Less pricey options include striping, bike paths, and electronic signage, he said.
“If it’s our road and not MDOT, we would have the opportunity to set our own rules – speed, types of vehicles,” said City Manager Jonathan Smith. “A big con would be the financial liability we would have to plan for, years in advance.”
City engineers HRC recommended not taking ownership unless the asphalt, streetlights, curbs, gutters, and the rest of the road is first repaired and refurbished up to standards by the state, said Melissa Coatta, associate at HRC.
HRC also recommended the city update its master plan for Main Street, Coatta said.
“Make a list of things that need to be done and ask they do those things,” Smith said. “Theoretically, it would be 15-20 years before we would need major expenses, and we could use that time to build up cash. It would definitely take some planning.”
The city could include replacement of curbs and asphalt, and streetlights expansion, and show it to MDOT, he said.
Sharron Catallo, former mayor speaking as a member of the public, said they should try to get Main Street off MDOT’s truck-route map, something the city has accomplished before.
“There’s an increase in heavy traffic up M-15 because of housing being built up there,” Catallo said. “Enforcement is really important. Once our police enforcement was gone (with the disbanding of the Clarkston Police Department in 2010), it seemed to pick up again.”
“Probably this summer we’re going to see a whole lot more traffic,” Haven said.
The city contracted with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office for two months this past summer for speed control on Holcomb, which was effective. Also, Dixie Highway and Sashabaw Road offer alternatives to M-15 through Clarkston, Smith said.
Issues include damage to historic homes from traffic vibration, Wylie said.
“That’s something we should certainly look at,” she said. “Striping, bike lanes, anything to make them slow down.”
Smith will put together a list of ideas.
“There’s not going to be one silver bullet to solve this,” he said. “Taking it over would be cost prohibitive. Maybe a combination of ideas would solve the problem. This has been going on for years and will take time to put together solutions.”
A truck traveling south on M-15 on Nov. 4, 2019, hit a vehicle and trailer near Bluegrass Drive, veered to the right off the roadway, barely missing Brioni’s, and coming to rest in the ditch just south of the parking lot,
This past Oct. 4, a car ran over a street sign and hit a utility pole on M-15 at Robertson Court. Last year on April 20, a truck hit two vehicles before smashing into a dental office on M-15 at Waldon Road.