Douglas Officials Dealing With Criticisms & Questions Over Road Work
Douglas City Council Monday acknowledged there have been grumblings coming from some in the public about the still-in-progress rebuilding of the Blue Star Highway, from Center Street north to the south end of the bridge.
The concerns vary, including questioning whether the road’s width will now be wide enough, problems with trailers with boats unable to get into the Red Dock Cafe boat launch, problems with a gas truck unable to access the gas station on the corner of Blue Star Highway and Center Street, a portion of a curve that had to be redone, and so on.
The issue was briefly discussed during Monday night’s council meeting.
Douglas City Council Member Lisa Greenwood commented the number one concern she hears from folks is whether emergency vehicles will be able to easily travel through the newly improved roadway.
Douglas City Council Member Neal Seabert’s comments echoed the sentiment of other members when he said, “When people come to me with complaints about Blue Star, my policy is, ‘wait and see’. If there is an issue, we’ll fix it.”
Seabert continued, “We have worked so hard on this for three years; we didn’t just jump into it (without any strategic planning). Personally, I think this project is going to improve our community and make it more beautiful.”
The Douglas Blue Star Corridor improvement entails a physical separation between motorists and the bike path, signage, some reconfiguration of the road (removing pavement and installing some pavement) and modifications at intersections to make it easier for pedestrians to cross.
Local resident Tom Krawkowski told The Local Observer he, too, had some concerns, but concurred with elected officials when he said that it was a good policy to hold reservations until the project was completed to make a proper and a just assessment.
Also, Krawkowski said he enjoys bike riding and a bike path there would be nice.
The ongoing Blue Star corridor improvement is a project that is being mostly funded by a $300,000 Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) improvement grant and the rest of the funding will come from the city’s major street fund.
And as city officials have indicated, it aligns itself very well with the Friends of the Blue Star Highway’s own ambitious project: a 20-mile paved, non-motorized bike path connecting Saugatuck and South Haven).
That project has brought as many criticisms as praise from area residents, espeically in Saugatuck Township where many residents/taxpayers have complained that township officials did not adequately notify them of the planned bike path and its costs; did not present a detailed cost analysis to the public about the bike path’s future rehab and refurbishment costs which could be in the millions of dollars; did not adequately plan the bike path as evidenced by it running in front of the township fire department building and building a wooden bridge component along most of a private property; had not figured out how to connect a portion of its bike trail near North Street, etc.
A portion of the biking trail has been completed within Saugatuck Township, and the Friends of the Blue Star group continues to hold discussions with Saugatuck city officials, who have raised safety and traffic concerns on their city’s section of the trail’s proposed pathway (namely Lake Street and Blue Star Highway intersection).
Saugatuck officials have said they are not interested in pursuing the Friends’ bike path plan as it doesn’t align with their future funding goals for the city; safety issues and budgetary constraints.