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Peninsula Drive Speed Limit | Jane Boursaw Photo
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Not too long ago, I got a speeding ticket on Peninsula Drive. I know what you’re thinking. “Slow down, Jane! You’re going to kill someone!” And you might picture me whipping through those S-curves doing upwards of 100 mph, my little Jeep on two wheels as I barely avoid careening through the bushes into West Bay.

Um, no. For one thing, my 20-year-old Jeep shakes maniacally if I go over 65 mph. And for another thing, I was only doing 5 mph over the speed limit. And that’s what our friendly Peninsula Township deputy Jason Hamilton wrote me a ticket for, which amounted to something like $120 when I went to pay it at the Robert P. Griffin Hall of Justice in town. (And hey, I come by any proclivities to speeding honestly. They didn’t call my mom “Leadfoot Mary” for nothing.)

(Correction per Grand Traverse County Sheriff Tom Bensley in the comments section below: “Ms. Boursaw … Could you please make another correction to this article … After speaking with Deputy Hamilton I was informed that the reason for the traffic stop was that you were travelling 51 mph in a 35 mph zone … Not 5 mph over the limit … The citation was written for exceeding the speed limit by 1 to 5 mph…”)

Oh, I learned my lesson. I haven’t sped along ANY Peninsula road since then. I mean, who has an extra $120 to randomly throw at a speeding ticket? And of course, there’s the whole safety issue thing. I can’t say that driving 5 16 mph over the speed limit greatly endangered anyone, but seriously, people and pets HAVE been killed by drivers speeding along Peninsula Drive, so we have to be careful along there.

Here’s the thing, though. It’s really easy to go 5 mph over the speed limit on Peninsula Drive. For the record, the speed limit from the forks (intersection of Peninsula Drive and Center Road) all the way to Gray Road is 35 mph. So while that might not seem slow in towards town, once you get out on Peninsula Drive a little ways, it’s not hard to go 40 or 45 mph. You really have to pay attention to your speedometer.

Another thing is, when you actually go 35 mph all the way out to Gray Road, you will have a long line of cars backed up behind you. I’ve been paying attention and know this to be true. In fact, one time while doing 35 mph about a mile out from the forks, I pulled over to let someone speed by me. I happened to see Peninsula Drive resident Marty Brauer working in a flower patch at the bottom of her driveway. After the person sped by me, I saw her throw up her hands in dismay, so of course, I stopped to chat.

Marty said people speed down that stretch of Peninsula Drive all the time, and it’s a constant worry for the residents along there. She worries about her family crossing the road to get to the beach, made even more perilous because of the somewhat blind curve there.

Another time, I pulled over to let someone speed by me, and lo and behold, further down the road I saw Deputy Hamilton writing them a ticket. That did my heart good. Like, see?! You speed down this road, Buster, you’re going to get a ticket! Just like I did! I was so heartened by that speeder getting a ticket, I pulled over and took a picture. In fact, over the summer months, I saw Deputy Hamilton camped out along that stretch of road quite often.

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Peninsula Drive Speeder | Jane Boursaw Photo

As far as the rest of Peninsula Drive, the speed limit changes to 45 mph at Gray Road and stays at 45 mph for the rest of the road. In fact, if you follow Peninsula Drive out to where it intersects with Seven Hills Road, there’s no speed limit posted on the rest of Peninsula Drive. I asked Deputy Hamilton about this, and he said that if there is no speed limit posted, it defaults to 55 mph.

I’m not exactly sure how that works, because the speed limit on Peninsula Drive past Gray Road is 45 mph all the way to the stop sign at Seven Hills Road. So does that mean the speed limit on Peninsula Drive from Seven Hills Road to Swaney Road is 45 mph? Or does it default to 55 mph? Because that road turns into a dirt road between Old Mission Road and Swaney Road, and 55 mph on that stretch is ridiculously fast.

At any rate, Peninsula Township’s speeding issues aren’t limited to Peninsula Drive. People speed down every road on this Peninsula, especially us longtime locals (well, not me since I got that speeding ticket) who feel like we know the road really well and have places to be, people to see. We’re going to work or the store or town or wherever. People blame the new transplants for bringing their bad habits up north with them. I say no, it’s probably the locals whose families have been here for six generations.

East Shore Drive is another road with precarious speeding conditions. As with Peninsula Drive, the speed limit is lower in towards town, then increases as you get further out of town. Yet people speed down that road all the time.

Same with Bluff Road. The speed limit is 35 mph from Center Road all the way to the Bluffs, at which point it increases to 45 mph, then 55 mph from Blue Water Road north to Boursaw Road (corrected per Jim Linsell in the comments section at the bottom of this story – thanks, Jim). And yet, people speed down Bluff Road all the time, and there aren’t a lot of places where you can legally pass someone on that curvy road. I usually pull over and let people pass, because I don’t like a whole line of cars behind me.

And then there’s the little village of Old Mission. The residents on Swaney Road have actually put out home-made signs telling drivers to slow down before they round the curve to Haserot Beach, where during the summer months, kids and grownups cross the road all the time because there’s inadequate parking at the beach and people park along the road rather than the overflow parking next to the Legion Hall.

I believe there may or may not be similar home-made signs around the Neahtawanta Resort (but you didn’t hear it from me).

Center Road, our main thoroughfare, is notorious for speeders. At the public hearings for Vineyard Ridge and The 81 developments, I’ve heard John Fisher stand up and say more than once that people speed past his house on Center Road all the time – and he’s invited anyone who doesn’t believe it to sit on his porch and see for themselves. I know whenever I’ve stopped along Center Road to take pictures of Vineyard Ridge, it’s like you’re in the middle of the Indy 500.

I noticed that on Sheridan Road by the high school, they’ve painted the speed limit directly onto the road. I wonder if that’s helped to slow people down there. I know it’s made me pay more attention to the speed limits along that little road connecting Center Road with Eastern Avenue. I’ve also noticed that the radar machines are a good reminder about the speed limits. Here we are dutifully following the law on Peninsula Drive (don’t worry, Tim was driving.)

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Peninsula Drive Speed Limit | Jane Boursaw Photo

I’m not sure what the answer is, but there’s only so much that our one Peninsula Township deputy can do. Since many of our roads fall under the jurisdiction of the Grand Traverse County Road Commission, I think that’s probably a good place to start with issues about speeders. In particular, I’ve heard folks mention Ron Rohloff. His contact info is (231) 922-4849, ext. 212, or email rrohloff@gtcrc.org.

In the case of state roads, i.e. Center Road, aka M37, I believe Peninsula Township can pass a resolution requesting a speed study from MDOT and the Michigan State Police.

I look forward to your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this story.

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27 COMMENTS

  1. I have to agree with most of what you say, Jane. However, I think the areas that are posted 45mph, is actually too fast. Peninsula Drive and Bluff Road, are mostly residential. And full of people walking, bike riding, skate boarding and pushing strollers. I’ve been passed on the above listed roads, as well as Center Road many times. Even worse, “flipped off” for going too slow. I am also guilty of looking at my speedometer and realizing I’m going way too fast, and it’s not because I’m in a hurry, it’s because I’m following traffic. I have no real solution. I’m sure if I was ticketed, it would cause me to take pause and be more careful. I will be more mindful after reading this!

  2. I’m sorry, but writing a ticket for 5 over is kind of a dick move. He should have given you a warning. It would have had the same effect. Save the tickets for people going 10 over….there’s plenty of them. And $120 fine for 5 over is also ridiculous…see now you got me started….

    • Well, and his first comment to me was “Why were you going so fast?” And of course, the only thing I could think of to say was, “5 over is not fast. It’s not like I was doing 80 or something.” But he was very nice about it – even if he wouldn’t let me take his picture for the Gazette. 🙂 -jb

  3. We’d love to have the 40 mph speed limit on Mission Road reduced. With all the houses we really look like a residential street but requests to MDOT have been turned down. With the Old Mission Market we have lots of foot traffic and visitors stopping to take pictures and cars speeding by make it dangerous.

  4. I rarely made a trip to town from Montague Road without collecting a line of cars behind me. And me driving the speed limit of 55 mph until I got close to town. Lots of people passed me in areas of yellow lines. I don’t know the answer; personally I like the lower speed limits on some of our scenic roads such as Peninsula drive.

  5. Just a slight correction on the Bluff Road speed limit…it is 55 mph from Blue Water to Boursaw. I’ve tried to get it reduced to 45 since 1988 when we built our house in this stretch. My requests for speed studies to the township, the county, and MDOT have been fruitless. Our road doesn’t look any different from Peninsula Drive, East Shore Road, or the south end of Bluff Road. The speed limit on North Bluff was established many years ago when it was a sleepy farm road. My pet peeve…As each of the homes and subdivisions on this section of road have been built, contractors and their crews routinely go 55+ in this stretch. If the 81 moves forward, the officer with the radar gun will have new potential for revenue. The county insisted on removing 200 trees from Bluff Road this summer in the interest of safety. Reducing the speed limit would seem consistent with this goal. The numerous walkers, joggers, cyclists, and residents would be protected if they’d see the light. Seems like it’s time for our recently renewed town board to do a township-wide speed limit study and go to bat with the county and state on residents’ behalf.

    • Thanks so much, Jim. Made that correction in the story above. Tim’s mom lives farther north from you and M.A., and she’s always so concerned about people speeding through there going 55 mph (and faster) – and with good reason. It really is crazy for it to be 55 mph there, with as you mentioned, all the walkers, joggers, bikers, etc., and then that abrupt L-curve as you head up Boursaw Road to Smokey Hollow Road. Love your idea about the Board doing a township-wide speed limit study. Especially with all the new and ongoing development out here.

      • The stretch of Smokey Hollow from M 37 northward is a daily parade of white box trucks, construction vehicles, contractors going much more than 55 mph. You can hear the trucks applying their jake brakes daily. There is a curve just north of Boursaw on Smokey Hollow and people fly down it unaware than bikers, walkers and joggers are on that Smokey Holllow curve. The 2015 rep planner was very dismissive when we brought up the increased traffic that the 81 would be and flat out told us traffic worries were a county problem and not a township problem. When we add 80+ homes with the current infrastructure and speeding issues, you are going to see death and injury on OMP roads. Is anybody awake in our governing bodies?

          • Unfortunately, this happens a lot and it’s only a matter of time before there is a huge accident. Our mailbox is just down from Kim and Linda’s and it’s dangerous to check the mail. I usually pull my car over to the side of the road to get some measure of protection and still people blow by. On icy days you gotta pray you won’t slip and fall on Smokey Hollow.

  6. I’ve noticed that the traffic on Center Road has increased 3-fold this past summer, and rarely is a trip in or out of town between 10 A.M. and 10 P.M. not slowed by a site-seeing vehicle going 35 to 45 mph on Center Road. This creates a line-up of frustrated residents who take Center Road because the posted speed is 55 mph…Residents that avoid Peninsula Drive because of the posted slower speeds, pedestrians, and bicyclists (that claim entire lanes as their own). I just wish there were more 55 mph signs along Center Road to inform the tourists. We’ve gone from plenty of passing zones to very few in the last 20 years from Mapleton southward.

    Ironically, where the speed limit falls to 45 mph at the city line (the future Vineyard Ridge) I notice those same cars that could barely manage to travel 10 mph under the posted speed will suddenly speed up to 50+ mph until they pass First Congregational Church. I’m bewildered daily at the seemingly “we’ll drive whatever speed we want” attitude of this years drivers and their ignorance of the 10 cars lined-up behind them for a reason. I believe this added congestion on Center Road will only entice locals to drive faster on roads like Peninsula Drive, Bluff, and Smokey Hollow. And, that’s something that none of us want.

  7. Ms. Boursaw….Could you please make another correction to this article….After speaking with DeputyHamilton I was informed that the reason for the traffic stop was that you were travelling 51 mph in a 35 mph zone…..Not 5 mph over the limit….The citation was written for exceeding the speed limit by 1 to 5 mph……

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