By Rosemary K. Otzman
The traffic engineer hired by the Belleville Area District Library Board reported that his study shows the intersection of Belleville and Quirk roads does not qualify for a full traffic signal.
But, a traffic-actuated signal at this location would be recommended.
Engineer Michael J. Labadie of Fleis & Vandenbrink addressed the board during a special meeting June 18 to explain the traffic study he had prepared.
He said traffic signals are evaluated by traffic movement and there are seven warrants in the Michigan Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. The traffic flow here is not enough to meet the three warrants that apply to this intersection.
Labadie said accepted traffic studies show how many trips are generated by libraries and the figures can be estimated very closely.
He said the intersection would have to line up the library driveway with Quirk Road. He said, coming out of the library, a driver can see north, but can’t see to the south because trees and guardrails are in the way.
He said they could put a loop in the pavement that won’t do anything unless someone is in the driveway, then it will turn the Belleville Road light to amber and then red.
“You won’t delay people unless you have to,” Labadie said. “An actuated signal is the best of both worlds.”
He said he has to meet with the man from the county in charge of this, but that person has been out of town for three weeks because of a death in the family.
Labadie said that cameras are more reliable than loops in the pavement. He said they don’t have to coordinate this light with others farther north on Belleville Road.
Board chairwoman Mary Jane Dawson said pedestrians could push a button to cross and Labadie said that was so.
John Delaney said from the audience that Labadie’s study was flawed, but, “It wasn’t your fault.”
Delaney said first of all, the study was done during Belleville Road construction when motorists were getting multiple Nixle alerts to avoid that area.
Second, Delaney said, the study was started at 4 p.m., missing the 2:45 p.m. school buses that stop traffic on Belleville Road at Village Green.
And, he continued, there was no input from Van Buren Township’s study on that span of roadway as was promised because the only study VBT has is north of Culver’s and I-94.
“You missed all of this,” Delaney said. “Someone didn’t give you the information.”
Labadie bristled at the remarks.
“You’re wrong,” Labadie stated. “The study that was done was consistent with accepted practice … School buses are a grain of sand on the beach as traffic … Traffic studies are done all the time at 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m., which public agencies accept.”
Labadie said he called the road commission, VBT engineer, MDOT, attorney John Day, architect Dan Whisler, and looked at the site and Googled it. Later, he added SEMCOG figures were obtained.
“Did I answer your questions?” Labadie asked.
Delaney said, “No. If you would have been told there are only 90 days when buses don’t run, and the road is snarled up there between 2:10 to 5 p.m.” it would have made a difference.
“We did the study we were asked to do,” said an exasperated Labadie. “What we did was accepted practices. I don’t know why you think we meant to do something bad.”
Delaney said it is a dangerous corner.
Labadie said Wayne County hasn’t read the final report, but schools are not a big generator of traffic volume on most roads.
Phil Miller said from the audience that Belleville, Rawsonville, and Haggerty roads are the main roads for Belleville. He said while construction was going on people were switching to other roads.
Miller said if construction hadn’t been there, Labadie probably would have gotten the 30 extra cars he needed on the counts to get a traffic signal.
“You’re recommending an activated signal and so you’ll end up in the same place,” Miller said.
Miller noted that loops and motorcycles rarely work and Labadie agreed, suggesting that the loop sensitivity could be changed.
When asked, Labadie estimated a cost of $90,000 to $110,000 for the traffic signal.
He said the library has to apply for a driveway permit through the county. The county may design it themselves or hire someone to do it. The county would set up the cost sharing and maintenance goes with the cost, he said.
“Does the road commission generally follow your recommendation?” asked board secretary Joy Cichewicz.
“Yeah. Probably,” Labadie said.
He added that they could decide to have the light work some hours and flash other hours. He said they could have a flashing light ahead of the signal to alert motorists. He said studies show there have been no major accidents on Belleville Road in the years studied.
The study was approved for a price not to exceed $3,600 at the May 13 meeting of the library board.
South Satellite agreement
In other business at the June 18 special meeting, the board discussed the draft agreement drawn up by attorney Day for the South Satellite location in Sumpter Township.
Day called the document a “proposed lease” and it calls for payment of $1 for 30 years for the library to use part of the Sumpter Community Center for a satellite library.
“Thirty years may be too long,” Day said. “We may find it’s used so much we need another facility … There needs to be some way for us to back out.”
He said Sumpter may have some concerns on the lease and he gave a copy to Sumpter Township attorney Rob Young to take to the township for feedback.
“We’ll negotiate back and forth,” Day said.
He said some kind of paperwork is needed because Sumpter is providing the building and, “We have to make sure the next board doesn’t throw us out.”
Day said he didn’t put any numbers in the document because they aren’t giving this to Sumpter with the idea “this is what we’re going to do.” He said this is a diplomatic first presentation for discussion.
Day said if the library decided to vacate the community center site because it isn’t being used, there would have to be a trigger and he doesn’t know what that would be.
“We could downsize it,” Day said. “It doesn’t make any sense to have people out there if it’s not being used.”
Architect Whisler said it would be up to Sumpter to set the trigger.
“We have to talk to them,” Day said of Sumpter. “We don’t know how much it will be used.”
He said he presented the draft lease to get feedback from the library board.
Sign for DNR site
After discussion, the board agreed to give Delaney time to give a price quote on the 4’x8’ sign the library board plans to put on the DNR site to show voters where it wants to build its new library.
Cichewicz had already made a motion to accept the $682 price quote of Fastsigns of Ann Arbor for the work and file paperwork for the sign with Van Buren Township. But the board hadn’t voted yet.
Delaney said he owned a local sign company and he wanted a chance at the job. There had been no call for quotes, he said, so he had no known before this meeting that they sought a price.
The board relented and gave Delaney until noon the next day to come up with a quote and he said it would be $200 less.
The board gave direction to Library Director Deb Green to move forward with the sign so it could be put up at once. It was announced the sign would be yellow and black, like a bumble bee, but Delaney said green would be a better color.
When asked why he didn’t use a local sign company for his recommendation, architect Whisler, of Ann Arbor, said he knew there was a local sign company, but he looked for it and there was “not much of a web site.”
“I didn’t know what their capabilities were,” Whisler said, adding he decided to just go with a company he had used in the past. He said if the board wanted him to get more quotes, he could, but, “You don’t want to pay me to spend the time.”
He said the sign would have to be 45’ back from the middle of the road and that would be behind the daylilies the township had planted.
Meeting time changed
The special board meeting was called for 7 p.m., June 18. But on the 18th, the agenda said the meeting should start at 7:30 p.m. So, the board and a full house in the audience waited until 7:30 p.m. to start.
By Rosemary K. Otzman