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Acme: Public Dreams, U.S. 31 Makeover Plans Revealed

September 5, 2012
Acme: Public Dreams, U.S. 31 Makeover Plans Revealed

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.


Most Recent Comments

 
Kim on September 6, 2012 8:43am

Acme please tear down the eyesore rundown motels!!!! What an embarrassment they are. I agree that establishing some sort of boat access to East Bay is a great idea for bringing in the boaters. Currently, the only public places deep enough to get a sizable boat into the bay are Elk Rapids and the ramp off of East Shore on the peninsula. The ramp at Dock Road has become way too shallow - where has the water gone???

Lenny on September 6, 2012 6:56am

Mount Hope Road would already be developed if the wise Acme Board hadn't stonewalled the Walmart proposal 10 years ago. There's a quarter mile of vacant Eastwood property behind McDonalds and the strip malls which would be a highly visible shopping/restaurant district if a street was back there. Acme sends mixed messages. All these meetings sounds like the basis for a Master Plan update that will be used to kill any development along M-72.

M L D on September 5, 2012 11:35pm

Having attended the meeting, I'll say that the propositions aren't nearly as loony as they sound. It's conceivable that the plans might even accomplish much of what they desire, without messing everything up.

YM on September 5, 2012 4:16pm

I am always astounded by how so many of us think that simply because we have a drivers license, we know how to plan towns and design roads.

PattiR on September 5, 2012 3:31pm

Bike trail and traffic "calming" are a great idea, but with water quality problems in this stretch, who'll stop? Bigger question: why stop in Acme anyway? Nuthin' there!! Why not get going on Meijer project and increase jobs and tax base. Let's get movin' Acme!

Dave on September 5, 2012 12:09pm

People don't stop in Acme, because there's NOTHING there to stop for! If you want a down town feel, research Edwards Colorado.

Charlotte on September 5, 2012 11:25am

This is almost as funny as the roundabout on 72. Good grief! I also love that such changes can be moved on so quickly (before the newly elected board is sworn in). Build the "downtown" away from the water where the master plan suggests-page 44, it's even spelled out - "Town Center". They had input from 100 people who thought this would be a good idea?!? I hope Acme's REASONABLE citizens can show up tonight. The new board is going to have enough "un-doing" to do I'd imagine. They don't need another mess to clean up.

Greg on September 5, 2012 11:06am

Sure smells like the "Michigan Land Use Institution" had a hand in this. Another stupid idea.

The Don on September 5, 2012 9:54am

Who is draining East Bay is the question? Water went out 13 years ago and never came back. Will this attract tourists? The stench coming from East Bay Marina ( dead fish ) will really attract visitors. A huge park along the water in Acme is becoming a giant dog run. East Bay and what's left of Acme's waterfront is polluted. Controls must be put in place now and enforced.

M L D on September 5, 2012 9:45am

Noble goals, but can't help thinking this is disaster in the making. Speeding is common along that stretch of 31, some drive even faster along north stretch of 5 mile next to TART trail. Summer rush hour traffic on 31 between 8th and 5 Mile is so bad, I use Hammond to get home sometimes. Could bypass though Mt. Hope, decrease speed limits between it and say, Shore road, I suppose. But to bottleneck all traffic going to and from Traverse City through Acme would seem a disservice to locals and fudgies alike, not increasing tourist revenue or public happiness.

See y'all at the meeting tonight.

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