Thursday, December 1, 2022

Say goodbye to 35 mph

MDOT speed study results will see speed on M-57 through city of Greenville increase from 35 mph to 40 mph

Vehicles travel east and west on M-57 in Greenville on Thursday through a 35 mph zone. Following the results of a speed study performed over the summer, the 35 mph rate of speed on M-57 in Greenville will increase to 40 mph. — DN Photo | Cory Smith

EUREKA TOWNSHIP — Motorists traveling on M-57 through the city of Greenville will soon be able to do so at a higher rate of speed following the results of a speed study performed over the summer. 

During Wednesday’s meeting of the Greater Greenville Transportation Committee, Jason Cole, an assistant operations engineer with the Michigan Department of Transportation, affirmed the results of a speed study that took place on M-57 within Eureka Township and the city of Greenville in July. 

The speed study was originally requested of MDOT via a joint resolution from the Greenville City Council and Eureka Township Board in the spring of 2021.

Following the results of a speed study performed by the Michigan State Police at the request of the Greenville City Council and Eureka Township Board, the speed on M-57 will change along the Greenville corridor as outlined above. — DN Illustration | Cory Smith

The request came forward following the Greenville Planning Commission’s approval of the site plan for the new Aldi grocery store, which is nearing completion on the northwest corner of M-57 and Ridgewood Drive, after neighboring residents in Eureka Township asked that a speed study be performed on the highway with a hope to potentially lower the speed of 55 mph on the stretch of highway between Satterlee Road east to Youngman Road. 

However, not only did the speed study not result in lowering the speed limit in that area between the township and city, but the Michigan State Police, which performs the speed studies for MDOT, determined that the rate of speed on the majority of M-57 within the city limits should be increased. 

To set speed limits on Michigan highways such as M-57, the MSP utilizes the 85th percentile speed — the speed at or below which 85% of all vehicles are observed to travel under free-flowing conditions past a monitored point.

The results of the speed study will now see the rate of speed on M-57 change beginning at Youngman Road east to E. Kent Road — a two-mile stretch of highway through the city — to 40 mph. 

Previously, the majority of that stretch of highway was posted at 35 mph.

Greater Greenville Transportation Committee members, Eureka Township Planning Commission Chairperson Duane Putnam and Vice Chairperson Marty Posekany, listen as Jason Cole, an assistant operations engineer with the Michigan Department of Transportation, provides the results during Wednesday’s meeting of the GGTC in Eureka Township of a speed study performed on M-57 over the summer along the Greenville corridor. — DN Photo | Cory Smith

More specifically, the results of the speed study are: 

• The speed on M-57 from Satterlee Road east to Youngman Road will remain at 55 mph. 

• The speed on M-57 from Youngman Road east to Maplewood Drive, which was previously posted at 45 mph, will be reduced to 40 mph. 

• The speed on M-57 from Maplewood Drive east to E. Kent Road, previously 35 mph, will increase to 40 mph. 

• The speed on M-57 from E. Kent Road east out of the city limits and into Eureka Township, previously 45 mph, will increase to 55 mph. 

“Once we have the traffic control order signed and approved so the MSP can enforce it, we’ll change the signage,” Cole said.

The results took some local municipal leaders by surprise. 

“The results were met with surprise — not all that excited and happy,” Eureka Township Supervisor Darcia Kelley said. “Basically, they haven’t really addressed the issue as we’ve got Aldi coming in and we already have Walmart and a couple car dealerships in that area. We were looking for an adjustment in speed, maybe prior to Youngman Road.” 

Greenville City Manager George Bosanic told the Daily News that while he respects the process of the speed study, he is hopeful to have additional conversations with MDOT about the results. 

“We’ve not had time to receive and analyze the data from the study, but once we do, we would like to have a conversation, if there is anything in the data, that would suggest this isn’t the right thing do to,” he said. “I’d like to see the data so we can understand it and analyze it. Perhaps we can then have a conversation with MDOT about any changes that we feel would make sense.” 

Some members of the GGTC expressed confusion as to why the speed study resulted in changes to the speed limit on M-57 east of Youngman Road.

Members of the Greater Greenville Transportation Committee met for their final quarterly meeting of the year Wednesday at the Eureka Township Hall where among other items discussed were the results of a speed study on the M-57 corridor through Greenville. — DN Photo | Cory Smith

“I thought our request was from the Greenville city limits out west, either to W. County Line Road or Satterlee Road,” Eureka Township Planning Commission Vice Chairperson Marty Posekany said. “Nobody mentioned anything about the rest of the city.” 

Per the resolution agreed upon by the City Council and Township Board, the request from both municipalities was “to conduct a speed study on M-57 between Satterlee Road and Youngman Road.” 

However, Cole said upon receiving the request, the MSP asked that the range of study on M-57 be extended to include the entire M-57 corridor through the city of Greenville. 

“That was kind of the original request, but the state police, they wanted to look at that whole corridor, not just the one piece,” he said. “When we found out from the MSP that they wanted to look at the entire corridor, I did let the township and city know that. Honestly, we probably should have gotten a revised resolution or a different resolution, but decided we didn’t really have to have that.” 

According to Cole, the only factor taken into consideration when the MSP performs speed studies on state highways is the rate of speed, meaning additional factors such as busy crosswalks over the highway, such as those utilized twice a day by students at Baldwin Heights Elementary School and Cedar Crest Elementary School, are not considered. 

“It’s strictly based on the speed of the vehicles that are traveling, to set the speed limit,” he said. “Per state law, if someone is in a crosswalk, you have to yield to them, and certainly if there’s a crossing guard, they have to stop for that crossing guard.” 

As for accepting the results of the study, Cole said there is no recourse for either the city or township to have the new rates of speed voided. 

As was included in the joint resolution, “It is further understood that the City of Greenville and Eureka Charter Township will abide by the decision made by MDOT and MSP as a result of this speed study.”

One member of the GGTC who wasn’t surprised with the results was Eureka Township Planning Commission Chairperson Duane Putnam. 

In 2018, the Eureka Township Board asked MDOT to perform a speed study on the section of M-91, beginning at the Greenville city limits, south to Baker Road. What resulted was that one-mile stretch of highway changing from 45 mph to 55 mph. 

“In reality I don’t think we should be surprised,” Putnam said. “We asked for the study out here (M-91) when it was 45, and at that time the MSP told us they use the 85th percentile to determine speed limits and we ended up with 55 through here now. So I’m not surprised it (M-57) did increase to 40.” 

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