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Solution to Traverse City's traffic woes? New bridge over Boardman River is back on table

BoardmanBridgeMeeting
Patrick Shea
/
Interlochen Public Radio
Tuesday night's Grand Traverse County Road Commission public meeting included displays on three construction scenarios, and one "no build" option.

The Grand Traverse County Road Commission is seeking a solution to disperse traffic south of Traverse City.

Grand Traverse County grew by 9.5 percent over the last decade according to the US Census Bureau. That influx means more traffic.

The Grand Traverse County Road Commission held a public meeting Tuesday night to discuss a handful of potential solutions.

Those options include the construction of new bridges over the Boardman River, or widening the existing bridge on Cass Road. Another is a "no build" option, which would avoid any impact to wetlands and parks along the riverbanks.

“You just have to decide what I’m willing to give up to live in this area," said Alicia Sanford, a retired teacher who's dealt with the slow crosstown commute for years.

"If you want fast roads to get from here to there, then this isn’t the place to be.”

This discussion is nothing new. A bridge connecting Hartman and Hammond roads was a contentious topic in the late 90s.
After lots of public dissent, the road commission set that idea aside in 2004. But congestion on South Airport Road has gotten worse, slowing down school buses and ambulances.

"Routinely, we're at 30,000 cars a day," said Brad Kluczynski, manager of the Grand Traverse County Road Commission. "There’s a lot of growth in this community; people want to live here. So, the traffic volumes are going to continue to increase."

Based on public surveys done by the road commission, the Hartman-Hammond bridge is the most popular option right now. 60% of respondents were in favor of the bridge, while just over 30% were opposed.

As the road commission narrows down the options, it expects to land on a preferred choice in a little over four months. If a bridge is built, the commission says it’ll be at least 10 years before completion.

Patrick Shea is an environmental reporter at Interlochen Public Radio. Before joining IPR, he worked a variety of jobs in conservation, forestry, prescribed fire and trail work. He earned a degree in natural resources from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, and his interest in reporting grew as he studied environmental journalism at the University of Montana's graduate school.