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Confusion on River Street reverse-angle parking

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz The new reverse-angle parking in Alpena has been implemented and motorists are reminded not to pull in front first, as it can cause an accident when trying to pull back out into the right-of -way. City police are distributing reminders about the change and issuing warnings. More information can be found on the city’s website.

ALPENA — A portion of the City of Alpena’s two-way traffic conversion project is complete and reverse parking on River Street has been implemented.

There is still some confusion however on how to navigate downtown and back in and out the new parking stalls.

For a good part of Wednesday motorists were pulling forward into the new parking spaces, which is not only illegal, but also a potential safety hazard.

By parking in the stall front first, it limits the ability of the driver to see oncoming traffic when they attempt to pull back into the right-of-way.

City Engineer Rich Sullenger said he has seen instances where the parking area has been utilized properly, and other times not so much. He said some confusion is expected, as people adjust to the new parking plan, but encourages drivers to try it and give the new system a chance.

“It’s a huge change, but it is a matter of people getting accustomed to it,” Sullenger said. “It is different, but it is safer and easier than parallel parking. Give it some time, try it and I think people will find although it’s not natural at first, that it is much easier than they think.”

The State of Michigan recognizes reverse-angle parking as the safest method of parking and it only allows it on its trunk lines, Sullenger said.

“The Michigan Department of Transportation would not have allowed us to do this if it was a traffic hazard,” he said.

Law enforcement has been patrolling the parking area and leaving reminders and instructions on the windshields of vehicles who park wrong. Sullenger said the leaflets also are available in stores downtown and at city hall. There also is a diagram and instructions on the city’s website.

Alpena Municipal Council and the Downtown Development Authority, which voted to approve the changes downtown, believe it is possible that once people are comfortable with the parking, it could be utilized in other areas of the downtown. Sullenger said one of the largest complaints about the downtown is the lack of curbside parking and if more reverse angle parking could be used, it would create many more parking stalls in the heart of the city.

There also was a traffic flow change put in place earlier this week. Carter Street, from Second Avenue to Third Avenue, is now open to two-way traffic. Sullenger said people are taking advantage of the convenience it provides, but wants to make sure drivers are alert when in that area.

Sullenger said the barricade that was in place, which prevented people from going the wrong way down the former one-way street, has been removed and the stop sign has been moved back further on Carter Street. Once a car clears that stop sign, it has the right-of-way until the stop light at Third and Chisholm Street.

“If you are at the stop sign at River Street and Third Avenue, make sure there is no oncoming traffic coming from your right,” Sullenger said. “Once they clear that stop sign, cars can go straight through. Just use caution until people get used to the change.”

Sullenger said traffic in the downtown also should be less congested once the Second Avenue bridge opens after the maintenance project is complete next week. The detours will be removed and traffic flow to Ninth Avenue will decrease.

The biggest change to downtown is yet to come. In the fall Second Avenue from Chisholm Street to the bridge will be two-way traffic.

A study also is being done to determine if the one-way section of Second Avenue from Chisholm Street to Washington Avenue can safely and affordably be changed to two-way traffic. The study will see if Third Avenue from Chisholm Street to Washington Avenue is feasible.

“People don’t like change, but change happens,” Sullenger said. “We just want people to give this some time and they may be surprised at how well it works. Will it take time for that to happen? Yes. People will get accustomed to it though.”

Drivers following an automobile wishing to park in the new spaces are reminded to give the car in front of them room to do so. The person parking is reminded to use their turn signal to alert the vehicle behind them that they intend to park.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.

How to reverse angle park

∫ Turn on your turn signal to indicate you intend to park.

∫ Pull past the stall you intend to park in.

∫ Slowly back into the parking space to the curb

∫ Drivers who are behind a vehicle attempting to park are to allow enough room for them to do so.

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