ALPENA -The Alpena Intergovernmental Government Road Committee is in the process of updating its section of the Alpena Area Wide Comprehensive Plan. It was last updated in 2003 and many of the goals established then have been achieved. Others that are still incomplete have changed in the importance of priority and been bumped to the top of the committees to-do list.
One of the priorities is to have an access road and rail trail crossing from Thunder Bay Junior High to the bus garage, but there currently are unknowns about if the plan is viable. Alpena Township Supervisor and committee chair Marie Twite said there have been talks about the school system moving the bus garage to a location nearer to the junior high school, but no decision has been made. The committee decided until Alpena Public Schools determines the future of the garage, any large investment in a trail would not be prudent, but the project was left in the plan.
Much of the focus of the meeting and the plan centered around potential plans to the road system in Alpena that would connect business districts, make the area easier to navigate and relieve congestion near M-32. Traffic near M-32 and Bagley Street is on the rise and as development increases it is expected to continue to climb and plans need to be implemented quickly to help accommodate the added traffic.
News Photo by Steve Schulwitz
Alpena Township Supervisor Marie Twite, Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Director Jim Klarich and MDOT representative Doug Wilson examine a proposed plan for an access road that could be constructed. The road would connect Bagley Street and Crittenden Court, as well as parking lots of the current and future retailers on M-32.
Twite said she has been in contact with some of the businesses on M-32 to see if they would support new access roads and an entrance that would link them together better and make access simpler for future development.
"I've met with Walmart and Home Depot and they are very open and supportive of the idea," Twite said. "It would open it up for customers and make it easier for them to get to the stores, so it would be a win-win for everyone."
As the Meijer project moves forward and other possible development projects become a reality, a plan that allows a smooth and safe flow of traffic on M-32 is key. Twite said any plan needs to be focused on the future as much as it is about today.
"We need to plan now about how we are going to be able to move people in and out of these new developments and to make Alpena a better choice for developing because we have a solid plan for roads and entrances," Twite said.
The committee, which has representatives from Alpena Township, the city, Michigan Department of Transportation, and Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Director of Economic Development Jim Klarich said everyone is working together, but time is of the essence. Twite said it would be a shame if development opportunities were missed because of some of the traffic and road related challenges.
"If we don't look at where these roads should be going and what impact there could be in the future, it will not only hinder our development, but our neighbors also. It could stop the growth and if the growth does continue, there will still be an increase in accidents and impede the progress and safety of our community," she said.
Among some of the proposed plans are utilizing Burkholder Road off of Bagley Street and run it behind Walmart and the Home Depot where it could connect with Crittenden Court and allow simple access back on to M-32. In the future Burkholder could be extended to Lake Winyah Road. There also are plans that could include Tamarack Road to handle some of the overflow of traffic and more stores and restaurants open.
Some other long range plans include extending Lake Winyah Road and constructing a bridge that would take traffic to Long Rapids Road or extending Tamarack Road all the way to Werth Road. Still another would extend Third Avenue to connect with Tamarack, which would make it easier for motorists to get from the western portion of Alpena to the southern business district. Twite said some of the proposed plans are many years out, if they happen at all, but it is important to have solid ideas in place should they be needed.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.