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To sign a petition, stop in at either: Fort Gratiot Township Office, Birchwood Mall at the carousel, or Independent Floor Covering.
Click here for MDOT Petition All petitions with original signatures should be turned in BEFORE JULY 8th, 2011 to either Kristy Jones at Fort Gratiot Township Offices, or Wing Thiele at Independent Floor Covering.
Stand: The FGBA is opposed to the closing of the northbound corridor where the freeway currently ends. We are not opposed to the new exit. We would like to see both the new exit near Scott Avenue open and the existing northbound corridor to Pine Grove Ave. left open as well.
State and Federal officials announced in December 2010, a revised plan to downsize the expansion of the bridge project from 56 to 16 acres and cut the cost from $586 million to $100 million. Hence, the 25 acres of the land that the State of Michigan recently acquired from the City of Port Huron will not be needed.
MDOT and Port Huron:
As a compromise, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the City of Port Huron officials agreed to a new plan, but without input from any of the surrounding communities and causing serious concerns from Fort Gratiot, Port Huron and Clyde Townships.
January 13, 2011 Meeting
The Township officials were notified of a meeting scheduled for January 13, 2011 at the St.Clair County Road Commission offices. The Fort Gratiot Business Association learned of this meeting indirectly and attended.
Those in attendance: MDOT officials including project Manager Matt Webb, a federal highway representative, Port Huron City Manager Bruce Brown and Mayor Pauline Repp, Managing Director of the St. Clair County Road Commission Kirk Weston, a county commissioner; Fort Gratiot Supervisor Doug Hannan, Port Huron Township Supervisor Bob Lewandowski, Clyde Township Supervisor Mike Marks and Fort Gratiot Business Association President Wing Thiele, and other Association representatives. The media / press did not attend and were not notified of this meeting.
“After The Fact”
All three of the township supervisors and the FGBA voiced their concerns over the new plan. It was apparent at the January 13 meeting that all planning had already been done, and the deal between the City and MDOT was “payback” for any harm the city would experience with the new downsizing of the project.
The current connector road off 1-69/94 going north to Port Huron would be closed to traffic. The new plan has the freeway ending at a new exit south of the new Bridge Plaza. The reason given by federal representative for transportation was that roads going left off federal expressways are not permitted. However, Road Commissioner Tim LaLonde countered, giving examples of recent improvements in the Ambassador Bridge corridor of left sided connectors, refuting the federal representative’s claim. Since the meeting, several more examples have been identified as doing the same. The current corridor is also not truly an exit. It is a road where the freeway ends. Traffic in this area is required to slow down, regardless of whether the driver is heading to the freeway end or the Bridge to Canada.
The Plan: New Road South of the Plaza
A new connector road from 69/94 would be built south of the bridge plaza (Scott St. area) becoming the sole juncture to get to Pine Grove Ave, and where the new freeway ends.
The new south plaza road would be separated from international traffic going to Canada. The new road would have two lanes for turning north onto Pine Grove and one lane turning south to Port Huron.
Port Huron City Manager Bruce Brown explained that the closing of the current road north to Pine Grove and the building of the new south plaza road to Pine Grove could redirect some of the business from Fort Gratiot and north, such as Lexington, to Downtown Port Huron.
This was countered that rarely would people having the intent of going north change their minds and go south, simply because of where the new road would be. Drivers who wanted to go to south or Downtown Port Huron could continue to use the Griswold St. and the Water St. Exits from I-69/94. Township supervisors and the FGBA did not object to the new exit, but proposed that the current existing north connector (to where the freeway currently ends) be permitted to stay open. Like any other freeway, clear signage would alert drivers well in advance to get into the proper lane for the desired destination.
This would allow smooth transit to the commercial hub of the region and areas north of Port Huron and travelers would have their choice of which exit to take. This would dilute all the traffic from going into a single “crunch zone” on Pine Grove Ave.
Going to Canada:
Local traffic desiring to go to Canada and those who would use the new south plaza road to Pine Grove need to jockey into the left lane, turn north to Pine Grove and make a left turn onto the current ramp going to the Blue Water Bridge.
Those traveling from the south and who desire to go to Port Huron but accidentally miss the new south plaza exit would end up going on the bridge to Canada. The new proposal has no alternate exit for those who accidently end up on the bridge to Canada.
The MDOT/City plan has the potential of causing backups during key times during the day and also during prime seasonal times, such as summer vacations, deer hunting season when people travel up north, holiday shopping season and people traveling to their cabins or cottages. Cars, trucks, campers, buses (including school buses) all fit into this picture. Backups could first occur at the juncture of the new road, again at the Blue Water Bridge Canada ramp, and again at the Hancock / Pine Grove light, all within a very short distance.
The agreement/deal between MDOT and Port Huron closing the current 69/94 connector road to Pine Grove and the building of the sole and local connector south plaza from Water St. to Pine Grove will affect negatively citizens and taxpayers throughout the county and beyond. It will touch not only those in Fort Gratiot, Port Huron and Clyde Townships, but people from the entire region. It will affect those who drive their children to Crull Elementary School and Northern High School and residents that live in north Port Huron. It will affect our Canadian travelers as well as tourists in general. Perhaps the city officials and MDOT did not envision the negative effect of their plan on the citizens of Port Huron. It will complicate traffic, causing safety concerns, traffic tie ups and hamper local businesses that provide much needed jobs for our area. By far, most people would not wish to see the City harmed—but at the same time, neither would people want to see a plan that restricts their choices in travel no matter where they live.