Tonight, engineers will reveal to the public some concepts for making Acme Township’s shoreline more accessible and enjoyable, and The Ticker has received a sneak peek at the plans. They include alternative routes to U.S. 31 to relieve much of the traffic, more pedestrian and bicycle trails along the highway and a redesign of parks.
Acme is hosting an open house to unveil the plans from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Williamsburg Dinner Theater on M-72. Anyone interested can drop in during that time to check it out.
“The purpose is to show what we’ve done and make sure we’re on the right track,” Township Manager Sharon Vreeland says.
The proposed plans include reducing U.S. 31’s five lanes to three – including a middle left-turn lane – between Mt. Hope Road and M-72, and adding bicycle lanes, sidewalks and even a parallel parking lane. Since U.S. 31 is a federal highway, federal officials would have to support any such changes.
Under such a plan, Mt. Hope would be widened and turned into a main road in order to give through-traffic more options.
The plans, prepared by planning and engineering firm Beckett & Raeder, are an offshoot of a public session in June at which people rated the things they’d most like to see changed about the East Bay shoreline in the township.
Seventy-two people gave feedback at the June meeting, and township officials also contacted homeowners and business owners along the stretch to see what they think. Altogether, well over 100 people have weighed in, Vreeland said.
The public’s most prevalent wishes for the area: slower traffic on U.S. 31, non-motorized pathways for recreation and commuting, unobstructed views of the water, and a community that looks and feels more like a town.
The alternate route idea first came up about a year ago, when the township was discussing the development of a public marina along Acme’s stretch of U.S. 31. That plan is dormant for now, but the bypass idea was a natural for a more user-friendly shoreline.
Speed limits on the road are 45 mph south of Five Mile and 55 mph to the north. The traffic regularly flows faster than that, Vreeland says. The traffic can make it difficult for people to use – or even notice – the parks along the stretch, says Christy Summers, the landscape architect who’s heading the design effort. It’s also a hazard for pedestrians.
“Acme right now is a pass-through community,” Summers says. “It’s not a destination, and it doesn’t look like a destination, in spite of the fact that it sits on such a great natural resource.”
The township has been buying properties along the stretch for years in order to open more of the shoreline to the public.
The feedback received at tonight’s meeting will help designers firm up a site plan by Sept. 30. That plan will then be put to a vote of the township board. Once passed, it will be used to consider policy changes, specific projects that will require funding or rights of way, and possible new zoning designations necessary to make it come true.