Traffic Control Dominates Topic Discussion at Dexter Town Hall Meeting

Residents in Orchard River Hills and other village subdivisions say speed is a consistent problem in local neighborhoods.

Transportation and traffic control were on the minds of Dexter Village residents on Tuesday during the village's annual town hall meeting.

Village Council members met with the public during an open forum at the Dexter District Library to gather input as the new fiscal year gets underway.

"We thought it would be helpful to take questions or comments from residents on issues that we're doing well, or not doing so well," village president Shawn Keough said.

Dexter Library Director Paul McCann opened the forum by thanking the village's Department of Public Works staff for keeping roads clear of snow and ice this winter.

"The village crews have done a great job," McCann said. "They've made it a lot easier to get around town this winter."

Todd Austin, president of the Orchard River Hills Subdivision Association, asked the council for an update on public transportation through the village.

The Ann Arbor Transit Authority's plans for a countywide transit system were curtailed at the end of 2012 after all of the municipalities in western Washtenaw County voted to opt out.

Trustee Jim Carson, who serves as board president for the Western-Washtenaw Area Value Express (WAVE) bus service, said the nonprofit is working with AATA to expand services in Dexter.

"WAVE is committed to doubling the frequency of our community connector route in Dexter," Carson said.

Currently the community connector route includes bus service through the village every two hours, seven days a week. Carson said by doubling service, a bus will run through the village every 50 minutes to an hour. In addition, WAVE is working with AATA to move its No. 9 bus stop from Wagner and Jackson roads to the Meijer shopping center on Zeeb Road in Scio Township.

The No. 9 bus connects with the WAVE, allowing residents living in the western portions of Washtenaw County to commute to areas in downtown Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

"I foresee a lot of college kids using the WAVE service in the future," Carson said.

Plans to double the service could come as early as October, Carson said.

Calming traffic in subdivisions

Austin told council members that speed is another factor that should be addressed, particularly in village subdivisions.

Austin said drivers often speed in excess of 25 mph down subdivision streets, and residents fear for the safety of pets and children.

Trustee Ray Tell said he didn't believe the village should use taxpayer dollars for traffic studies or traffic calming signage.

"I can put a stop sign in every yard and it would be ignored. I can't mandate the basic human trait of common courtesy," he said. "If you are driving through a residential neighborhood and you don't have the common courtesy to drive at a safe speed, you deserve whatever it is that might happen to you.

"I would hope that the peer pressure of the entire neighborhood would come down on anyone who is caught speeding."

Austin said he was concerned that some residents were taking matters into their own hands and acting as vigilantes by posting speeders' license plates on private Facebook pages.

"There's a cost to us too in our sense of safety," Austin said. "Quite frankly I think the posted speed limit of 25 miles per hour is too fast. These cars zip down side streets in all directions."

President Shawn Keough said village staff can ask the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office to increase patrols in the subdivisions for the next few weeks to monitor motorists. In addition, the village is gathering data from an LED speed management system to look at areas for increased traffic enforcement around the village.

The sign was placed on Ryan Drive on Jan. 31 and will next move to Fifth Street in the coming weeks.

Dexter resident February 13, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Sorry I missed this meeting. Speeding is not just a problem in the newer Village subdivisions. The old/original Village has a terrible problem with speeders who have created shortcuts through our residential side streets to avoid driving downtown. Check out the Baker to Dexter-Ann Arbor to Dover to Fifth shortcut, the Dexter-Ann Arbor to Fifth to Central, or the Dexter-Ann Arbor to Fourth to Central on any week night. Most of these speeders are from our neighboring townships. Bet those folks in Brass Creek would be furious if we drove through their streets at 35-45 mph!
Don Darnell February 13, 2013 at 02:25 PM
I wonder if the speeders are a symptom of a larger problem. At rush hour it's not hard to observe persons taking all manner of shortcuts through Dexter, with some hurried driving. I am somewhat surprised that there are no complaints about the intersections of Dexter-Chelsea & Island Lake in the morning and Baker & Main in the afternoon. The behavior of drivers at these intersections is unsettling, including crowding the intersection and crossing against the red. At 8 am on any morning it takes about 5-6 cycles to get through the light at Dexter-Chelsea, mostly because at nearly every cycle at least two or three drivers enter an intersection they cannot cross. I have rarely observed law enforcement at these spots at keys times.
Annette Coy February 13, 2013 at 03:45 PM
I live on Huron St in the older part of the village. Traffic comes off of Mast at 50mph and does not slow down coming into the village. I would love a speed bump on my street. (a big one)
Laura Jones February 13, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Some years ago, there was a great demand for a bypass of the village to prevent the traffic problems growing to unmanageable proportions. The Village Council was against any bypass and refused to discuss it beyond saying no - stating the objection that it would reduce commerce traffic in downtown and potentially suffocate the village businesses. They have now exactly what they asked for and planned for. There were multiple plans floated for the Island Lake viaduct problem and for the Mast Road to Central issue, but it was all stopped. Now here we are. It is a nightmare in the mornings and evenings. People flagrantly drive through the crosswalks with pedestrians in them. I see children crossing from school with drivers whizzing across the crosswalk while the kids are stuck in the middle or still crossing the lanes. (Just a note - it is illegal to cross any part of a crosswalk when a pedestrian is in the walk. The second they step into the crosswalk, they have the entire right of way in all lanes). It's only a matter of time. Perhaps it is finally time to talk about, plan and build the darn bypasses before people are killed.
Don Darnell February 14, 2013 at 01:06 AM
Who ever said "speed bump" don't ever utter that awful phrase again.
Marilyn Wilkie February 14, 2013 at 02:09 AM
"Thankfully, the area is booming and will continue to grow as more farms inevitably become subdivisions, and with Pinckney and Chelsea being very important parts of the equation, we must work together to keep the issue elevated and moving forward because the towns will surely die if left alone. " That is the very problem. Unrestrained growth during those "boom" years without thought for the infrastructure. Everyone wanted to move to the peaceful country but then they found out it isn't so peaceful anymore. Everyone rushing because they drive miles to their workplace and to take the kids to activities. Where would you suggest the bypass be built? At one time it was planned to go through the subdivision behind Judge Dexter's house. Think those people want it?
Marilyn Wilkie February 14, 2013 at 02:11 AM
I would love to see a few on Island Lake Rd. and happily drive slowly over them.
Sean February 14, 2013 at 01:09 PM
"Thankfully the area will continue to grow as farms become sub-divisions"? As a life-long resident of Dexter that's watched it go from peaceful and quiet to Ann Arbor Jr. in my 36 years of life, your comment makes me sick. You're part of the problem.
Sean February 14, 2013 at 01:09 PM
"Thankfully the area will continue to grow as farms become sub-divisions"? As a life-long resident of Dexter that's watched it go from peaceful and quiet to Ann Arbor Jr. in my 36 years of life, your comment makes me sick. You're part of the problem.
Sean February 14, 2013 at 02:35 PM
I wasn't trying to be diplomatic. I'm not a politician. I'm entitled to my opinion and to use this forum whether you like it or not. How have I helped? By never being late with a property tax payment, by picking up other people's garbage that they throw out their car window driving by my house, by reporting to the village that my nighbor has abandoned their house so the pipes don't burst. The fact remains that all of the "progress" that Dexter has gone through in my lifetime has done much good. But it's also destroyed the small-town appeal that originally made everyone want to move here. My opinion. Oh, by the way, saying "not" after a statement to show that you really meant the opposite stopped being cool and hip over 20 years ago. Congratulations.
Bob February 14, 2013 at 03:12 PM
I think the world is becoming a crazy place. We're letting go of our Christian values, mainly love your neighbor. If we all loved and respected our neighbors like we treat our own, our problems would be resolved. But instead we're being inconsiderate of others and their children. Till we move the country to the right Christian path, we will continue to degrade. God Bless.
Laura Jones February 14, 2013 at 03:27 PM
I think a bypass is the only solution. You can time all the traffic lights you want, but the streets will still be single lane, with the same bottlenecks. It's the bottlenecks that have to be relieved in order to change the problem. The two main ones are at Island Lake-Dexter Pinckney-Dexter Chelsea and at Mast Road - Huron River dispersing into town (the dispersion pattern is a problem). People thread through those two areas and fan out to find a faster way through the village to get out to where they are ultimately going. Some are only getting to the schools, but many continue beyond. Marilyn is right about the location - too late now so what do we do? I have to say I think it is a legitimate complaint that the unrestrained growth over the last years has been a huge problem. Very often people complained that all the growth without changes to the roads was a problem, but it was always over looked or ignored and the building went ahead. It has been sad to watch the fields disappear and the houses come up in their place and sometimes see wetlands suddenly gone. I hope further field to subdivision changes will be severely curtailed, before we become Ann Arbor to Chelsea without any noticeable change in scenery. I fail to see why that is not a legitimate position. Perhaps Sean was not as diplomatic as you may wish, but his position and feelings are shared by a lot of folks.
Sean February 14, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Fair enough.
Laura Jones February 14, 2013 at 05:35 PM
Not sure why you are making the NIMBY quips - I have said already its a bit late. The only options for a bypass would be unhappy ones, but it doesn't change the need for one. The chance to do it without inconveniencing people passed without action. So here we are. The lights in town are already timed - which doesn't make the commute into town any shorter for anyone coming from beyond the viaduct. There are a few options for bypasses - Huron River drive to Zeeb Road to 96 is one possibility, with a new light at Mast/Huron River/Joy Road. The other is Island Lake to Parker to Marshall and Baker Road. Not great, but about all that's left. And we dont have 15 years to figure this out.
Amos Walker February 15, 2013 at 06:13 PM
In regard to traffic in subdivisions, I would like to see the sheriff's department monitor traffic during morning rush hour through Westridge and Eastridge Sts. I have a sneaking suspicion people are cutting through there to avoid the signal at Dexter Pinckney and Island Lake, despite the No Thru Traffic sign.


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