Consultant: Hartman-Hammond best option | Local News

TRAVERSE CITY — Difficulties building alternatives to a bridge connecting Hartman and Hammond streets have essentially ruled them out.

That’s what Todd Davis, senior transportation planner at WSP, told a sparse crowd Wednesday at the last of three public sessions for the Boardman’s Corridor Planning and Environmental Linkages Process. His firm is working with OHM Advisors on the case, both on behalf of the Grand Traverse County Road Commission.

Ongoing and archived coverage of the Traverse City area’s east-west traffic issue, including the long-discussed Hartman-Hammond Bridge…

Consultants and state and federal agencies are confident in eliminating new intersections at Cass Road and the former site of the Sabin Dam, Davis said as he unveiled the “locally preferred option” and sought more input.

Instead, they’re looking at an intersection that was explored as a possibility more than 20 years ago — the Hammond-Hartman corridor, Davis said.

“Why? It has the smallest area of ​​wetland impact, the largest percentage of reduced traffic on South Airport Road, and the fewest number of housing developments,” he said.

It’s been a controversial proposal ever since, and on Tuesday some viewers were unconvinced a new crossing was even necessary.

Davis, who delivered the lion’s share of the presentation at the Networks Northwest Conference Center, said continued traffic growth is a key reason for this, and the reasons listed are just the top three why the Hartman-Hammond link makes the most sense in 10- to 25-years .

Some restrictions resulted in the elimination of Cass Road and the former Sabin Dam site, he said. Adding spans on Cass Road and building a new road west to US-31 would require construction of a bridge under some Michigan Department of Transportation tracks.

Bill Zipp, senior supervising engineer at OHM Advisors, said MDOT has informed the company that it will not abandon the tracks, which dead-end west of Grawn. Tunneling under the railroad would drain some high-elevation wetlands on either side of the line.

Consultants also recently discovered a conservation easement that made construction of any link road west of the new bridges difficult, Davis said.

Construction at the old Sabin Dam site seemed to make a lot of sense since it was already being disrupted, Davis said. The cost would also be less than the estimated $44 million to connect Hammond and Hartman streets, then US-31. But the Boardman River Nature Center is nearby, and widening Keystone Road to accommodate traffic between the new bridge and Hammond Road would require several homes to be evicted.

The connection of Hammond and Hartman streets had the best reduction in traffic on South Airport Road, according to traffic modeling, Davis said. This modeling showed a 37 percent reduction by 2045 compared to no new connection, equivalent to 13,203 fewer cars per day on South Airport Road. The new bridge would handle about 18,000 cars per day that same year, up from 11,000 for the Sabin Dam site and 6,000 for the Cass Road.

Fern Spence and husband Doug said they weren’t convinced a new crossing was necessary. Fern Spence said she thinks about how people fill bigger houses with more stuff. Another intersection could only bring more traffic jams.

Instead, the Spences said they wanted a more transit-centric development. Fern wondered if about 17,000 cars a day was worth the cost of building, and Doug said he would prefer the money to be put into public transportation.

That would be fairer for all income levels, especially people who can’t afford a car and rely on public transportation to get around, Doug said.

“I work at Munson and I understand that people don’t talk so much about traffic as they do about the cost of their car and they talk about the cost of gas,” he said. “So I think these models that are using them could really look to a future where fewer people are driving, especially if they have alternatives.”

Those alternatives could be especially important as the cost of owning a car continues to rise, Fern said. She hopes the Bay Area Transportation Authority will continue to improve their bus stops and schedules to attract more users.

As the planning and environmental linking process draws to a close, the Roads Commission board expects a report in April, said Brad Kluczynski, the commission’s superintendent.

Those who didn’t make the last hearing — there were six names on the registration form, not counting press, and Kluczynski said five had attended an earlier session Wednesday afternoon — can still submit their comments, according to the road commission. You have two weeks left to submit comments online at

It’s up to the board to decide whether to submit both the Hartman-Hammond link and a no-build option for a full review of the National Environmental Policy Act, Kluczynski said — the next step needed to move the long-term project forward .

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