For a while this summer and fall, motorists living on Shiawassee Road in Farmington could barely get out of their neighborhoods.
“I cannot get onto Shiawassee,” resident Jean Atkinson said. “Both ways, there are bumper-to-bumper cars.”
Traffic stacked up between Farmington Road and Grand River – and even farther east – made it almost impossible to pull out of a driveway or a cross-street. Residents recently met with city officials to find a resolution and learned about some potential solutions, and how the tie-ups may naturally disappear.
Neighborhood residents Penny and Lynn Oglesby hosted the November 16 gathering.
“Rather than have a whole bunch of people go to City Hall, I thought we could let (officials) know what’s most concerning to us, and we could get this problem solved in a reasonable time,” Penny said.
Engineer Matt Parks, with city consultant OHM Advisors, believes the problem may have originated with traffic stacking that followed the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) reconstruction of Grand River. He ran a traffic model against actual construction and found an area where re-striping the road may make a difference.
Parks said the intent of the “road diet,” which narrowed Grand River and striped in a bike lane, was “to get people to slow down.”
Residents on Grand River say the improvements have made them feel safer, with more of a buffer from the road. Those on Shiawassee believe the project is at least partly to blame for the increased traffic but, according to Parks, Grand River adjustments seem unlikely.
“They consider this an overflow if there’s an accident on (Interstate) 696,” he said. “To get them to change something is monumental.”
Parks said the city could ask the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) to experiment with the timing of signal lights, although initial tests done after the Grand River project wrapped up didn’t seem to make a difference.
Residents said they’ve noticed some relief coinciding with the end of a construction project on 12 Mile Road. City manager David Murphy suggested waiting to see how the completion of other Farmington Hills road projects affects traffic.