By LISA M. REED
NORWAY - Norway will remain a city with four lanes of traffic following a public hearing where a number of residents voiced their concerns about a proposed change.
Lisa M. Reed/Daily News Photo
Bill Asselin of Norway addresses the Norway City Council during a public hearing on a proposed change from four lanes of traffic in Norway to three lanes.
Anthony Manduca of Norway, a former mayor and county planning commission member, said going down to three lanes will cause problems for motorists trying to get out on side streets.
Bill Asselin of Norway said he was also against repainting the lines in Norway from four lanes to three lanes. He said there is a lot of truck traffic and that's why the city went to four lanes in the first place.
"It may work in a lot of places, but not here," he said.
City Mayor Jeremy Oja said of the 2,000 surveys sent out in the city's utility bills this month, 355 of them were returned in favor of keeping U.S. 2 in Norway at four lanes, 50 residents were in favor of changing U.S. 2 to three lanes and four surveys were returned with no opinion.
The issue of changing the lanes in Norway from four lanes of traffic to three lanes from the viaduct on the west end of town to past the railroad tracks toward Vulcan was addressed when the city approved its Complete Streets project in October of 2012.
At the June 17 council meeting, Ray Sharpe of Houghton County Community Health presented information on "road diets."
A road diet is where the road is reduced from four lanes to three lanes (center turn lane).
Jean Bradford of Norway commented that she is totally against the city going to three lanes of traffic.
"We need an even flow, not more congestion," she said. "It sounds like a majority of the residents are against it."
Tony Lombardini of Vulcan said 40 employees of Multi-Color Corp. in Norway signed their names against the change.
He said their comments included "the city taking a step backward" and "not the best idea they ever heard of," and "the city used to have big ideas with four lanes and will not be so big now with three lanes."
Lori Turri of Vulcan commented she sees both sides of this issue, but safety and speed are of concern.
"I agree with others, but for Norway to grow and attract business, they need to ease traffic," she said.
Oja commented that this issue may just lead to the city's speed limit being addressed by MDOT now that the city has Ed McBroom's and Tom Casperson's office working on the issue.
Carol Ann Sundstrom of Vulcan was one of the few who thought three lanes may work for the city.
"The objective seems to be to move people out of town. We actually have a Main Street, but it is separated by four lanes of traffic," she said.
Bob Reynolds of Norway and a truck driver commented that he was totally against the city going to three lanes of traffic. He said he has seen cases of kids and pedestrians doing unsafe things with three lanes of traffic.
Ryan Wender of Norway who also owns a business in Norway commented that U.S. 2 is congested and he hears the traffic and trucks in town while working.
Lynn Schultz was also totally against the change.
She questioned how businesses won't be hurt and how an ambulance will get through town.
"We have a town that needs four lanes. If we have 50 percent of the residents who don't want this, don't do it. I think it's a big mistake if we do this and I think we should listen to what he said," Schultz said in reference to the presentation the city was given regarding this issue.
Gail Galotta of Vulcan said Norway has a small window to make a big difference.
"The town is not surviving. The town is not thriving, and we have a way to make the town more attractive," she said. "I am asking the city council to not just listen to the research, but have some vision, courage and do something that makes a difference."
Mary Dierkens of Norway and a business owner also commented that reducing four lanes to three lanes is not an expansion.
Charles Shafer of Norway said to leave the lanes as they are.
"Two long lanes of traffic will make it difficult to turn on Main Street," he said.
Council members commented on the proposed lane change.
Lee Meneghini said of the nine out of 10 people he talked to agreed that speed has to be lowered on the west side of town by the viaduct.
"There are a lot more people out there with the museum and ministries. Slow down traffic to 45 mph by the viaduct," he said.
Dr. Paul Hayes said it was obvious a majority of the people in town do not want this.
Mark Bubloni said to leave it as it is.
Chris Gotstein said the council should go with what the residents want.
Oja added that he voted against it when the Complete Streets was approved.
City Manager Ray Anderson commented it appears most residents are against he change.
It was not known if the city did go with the change and it didn't work out if MDOT would allow them to go back to four lanes.
Council voted to leave the lanes as they are and have them repainted as four lanes.
Approximately 40 residents attended the meeting with 17 of them addressing the council about this issue.
In other action, council:
- Passed a resolution to abandon and de-certify the right-of-way for intersection of U.S. 2 and 9th Avenue.
- Purchased two new golf carts for the Oak Crest Golf Course from Meyer Enterprises for a price not to exceed $7,400.
- Approved a resolution in support for the promotion and development of a southern route for the governor's proposed Belle Isle to Ironwood Trail project. Gov. Rick Snyder introduced plans for the development of a multi-use trail throughout Michigan which traverses only the northern portion of the U.P. The trail proposed through the southern U.P. counties will provide an opportunity for much needed economic growth through year round tourism.
- Tabled the personnel contract for the city assessor. Two council members and the city manager will sit down and discuss the contract with the assessor before the next board meeting.
- Approved holding the conversion of Iron Street to a one-way street. It will remain a two-way street.
Lisa M. Reed's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.