2014-06-14 / News

City Committee to Consider Dray Traffic

Downtown congestion has been a problem for years. Sightseeing carriages, freight wagons, cyclists, and pedestrians compete for roads and sidewalks that were platted in the 19th century. Boats bringing visitors from the mainland all arrive at the same time, dumping hundreds more people with strollers and bikes into the mix. The charms that bring tourists to Mackinac Island are getting lost in the confusion, and city politicians, at the urging of department heads and some business owners, are going to look at the issues again this summer, this time focusing on the horses.

The city’s Street and Sidewalk Committee will discuss increasing concerns over carriage and dray traffic on Main Street Wednesday, June 18, to consider how traffic flows through the downtown area and devise solutions to traffic concerns, perhaps including routing more carriage traffic to Market Street.

This solution has been proposed several times in congestion studies offered to the city by Michigan State University, but never looked at seriously because of a desire to keep horses in prominent view as tourists arrive on the Island.

Some of the biggest concerns outlined at a Street Committee meeting Wednesday, June 11, however, included carriages that are lined up in the middle of the street and drays pointing in the wrong direction at curbs. Arguments in city streets have ensued because there are no clear-cut policies.

Police Chief Brett Riccinto told committee members the city should come up with a solution quickly. Mayor Margaret Doud and the committee of chair Kay Hoppenrath, Dominic Redman, and Steven Moskwa agreed the issue should be addressed, and set the June 18 meeting to get the discussion started.

Mr. Redman, who is also a police officer, said the city should look at problems about parked carriages in the streets.

“Where in the State of Michigan are you allowed to park a car in the middle of a highway?” he asked, contrasting the practice with practices elsewhere.

Audience member and rental bike operator Ira Green said that drays pulling up on the wrong side of city streets to receive freight at the ferry docks are also dangerous and present tense situations between drivers and pedestrians.

“These people are tourists,” Mr. Green said. “They’re paying to be here and they’re getting screamed at every day.”

Chief Riccinto said some solution should be reached under the city council’s direction. Main Street is city owned, he pointed out, and solutions should be reached jointly between the city and horse companies. Changes from past practice will likely be difficult, he said, noting, “They’ll probably have to adjust.”

The June 18 meeting is at 3:30 p.m.

Ryba’s Bikes

At the upcoming meeting, the Streets Committee will also discuss Pete Deckert’s request to move 50 bicycle rental licenses from Tim and Margaret Horn’s property at 6992 Main Street to Ryba’s Bikes Lakeview Rental Lot on Main Street near the Star Line Dock. The committee favored other options, instead. Mr. Redman contends the area near the Star Line Dock was too congested to support the move and city attorney Tom Evaskevski noted the move could weaken statements about traffic congestion the city has made in court in pending lawsuits.

Mr. Redman and Mr. Moskwa would like Mr. Deckert to move all the rental licenses to The Island House. Mrs. Hoppenrath prefers the licenses to be split between The Island House and Ryba’s other lot downtown, adjacent to the Pancake House.

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Hopefully the decision about

Hopefully the decision about the dray drivers and their horses doesn't harm the feel and uniqueness of the island. To take them out of the mix will ruin the experience. The tourists come to see this and need to pay attention to where they are going, not just with the horses but with the bikes as well. Please don't lose the character and charm of the island. There has been too much modernization in other ways already.
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