Delhi Township explores transportation accessibility plans

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By Beau Hayhoe
Holt Journal staff writer

Erin Biel isn’t satisfied with the accessibility of Delhi Township’s roads.

Delhi Township officials are exploring plans to implement their own version of the Complete Streets program, which would incorporate accessibility measures for sidewalks and bike lanes when examining road construction and improvements. Photo by Beau Hayhoe

 

The township resident and Holt High School senior said there aren’t enough sidewalks or bike lanes near roads by her home, and those that are available can’t be easily reached.

“At least where I live, there’s a whole lot of streets that don’t have sidewalks or bike lanes,” she said.

But, Biel’s problem might be fixed soon if township officials continue moving forward with a plan to guide long-term road accessibility in the community.

Using a $4,500 grant from the Ingham County Health Department, officials are taking the first steps toward creating their version of the Complete Streets program.

The document is intended to focus the township’s road improvements on accessibility for all users, including bikers or handicapped citizens, said Tracy Miller, the township’s director of community development.

Miller said the program would give officials guidelines for accessibility issues when planning road construction, such as implementing sidewalks or bike lanes.
The grant — awarded in October 2011 — has been used to guide the planning process and costs associated with meetings to discuss the program, she said.
An introductory video of the planned program can be viewed here.
One public meeting regarding the program was held in December 2011, and Miller said attendance was small but supportive.
No more public meetings are to be held because the document has now entered the planning process, Miller said.

A draft document of the program is to be introduced to the Delhi Township Planning Commission within the next several months, Miller said.

Delhi Township’s planned Complete Streets program stems from a law passed by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm in August 2010.

The law mandates that communities consider all legal users of roadways when considering possible accommodations and improvements, such as hanicapped accessibility.

The law does not require that any community implement a Complete Streets program, according to a summary of the bill.

Communities around the state, including Berkley, Hamtramck and Sault Ste. Marie, have adopted Complete Streets resolutions as a result.

Delhi officials have developed a task force to examine how the program might fit with the township’s Non-Motorized Transportation Plan, which was passed in 2007, Miller said.

“The focus (of the Complete Streets program) would be on maintaining the infrastructure that we do have when the opportunity arises and when it’s appropriate,” Miller said.

Other communities, including Meridian Township and the city of Leslie, MI, have begun looking into similar programs, said Harmony Gmazel, a land-use planner with the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission.

Gmazel worked with the health department to award the grant to Delhi Township.

She said the Complete Streets program allows for better flexibility when working with the area’s many townships.

The planning commission works with township members from Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties.

“The (planning commission) … is promoting Complete Streets as a more sustainable planning tool for our streets,”  she said. “What we have seen … is overall, county and local agencies are embracing Complete Streets elements, whether or not it’s widened shoulders or changing roadways to get rid of a lane.”

Delhi Township Manager John Elsinga said easy access to areas near roadways is an important feature of a vibrant community.

“It’s essential and critical based upon … the health of the residents and their walkability,” he said.

Biel said she supports efforts to implement the program and said it “definitely” has the potential to improve road accessibility in the area.

“It’s important,” she said of accessibility.

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