Township to ask for MDOT study on Perry Avenue

Maxine McClelland

BIG RAPIDS TWP. — Following the death of a local teenager on one of the busiest roads in Mecosta County, Big Rapids Township officials are asking the Michigan Department of Transportation to conduct a speed study on Perry Avenue.

The township board of trustees will hold a special meeting at 3:30 p.m. today at the township hall, located at 14212 Northland Drive.

The township is asking MDOT to conduct the speed study on Perry Avenue from Venlo Drive to U.S. 131. According to the resolution expected to be passed at the meeting, “development (over the past 12 years) has increased the number of access points to the state trunkline, resulting in an increase in traffic congestion and the volume of turning traffic along the corridor.”

“We’re trying to get this going because we’re not going to have a meeting until after the election,” said township Supervisor Maxine McClelland. “Maybe there’s something we can do to make traffic safer and make people more comfortable driving. MDOT will go out there to measure the traffic flow and how fast people are driving and set the speed limit.”

The request for a study comes after the September death of 17-year-old Cody Campagna, who was struck by a vehicle while riding his bike on Perry Avenue near 215th Avenue. He died of his injuries.

Following Campagna’s death, his parents, Walter and Lauralyn, expressed their anger with the township board during its October meeting. They asked board members to take action to have a sidewalk installed on Perry Avenue to prevent future accidents.

The City of Big Rapids’ sidewalks end at Venlo Drive, which sits on the border of the city and the township. On the west side of Venlo Drive, there is no sidewalk, only a trodden path that connects walkers and bikers to Walmart, Meijer and other shopping centers in the Waldron Way area.

It is estimated that installing a sidewalk west of Venlo Drive to Waldron Way could cost $200,000. Because of the marshy, wetland terrain, it likely would need to be raised on a boardwalk-like structure and the project would require permits from the Department of Environmental Quality.

To keep pace with other modern city improvements, the sidewalk likely would need to be at least 10 feet wide to make room for a bike or wheelchair to pass a pedestrian. It also would require cutting and rebuilding curbs, grading and contouring land and creating sidewalk entries that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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