As long time summer residents and now full-time residents of Old Mission Peninsula, we have witnessed a lot of change. Some of these changes have been positive and others have been destructive.
Old Mission Peninsula is quite possibly the most unique piece of real estate in Michigan, being a true peninsula with breathtaking views of Grand Traverse Bay with its hues of blues and turquoise, views of acres upon acres of orchards and, more recently, views of vineyards and wineries. As a residential/agricultural area, we have it all, and we are truly blessed by our surroundings.
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The thing is, we are a residential/agricultural area, not a commercial corridor. We have grown to the point where traffic is constant on most of our roads. We have a mix of tourists and residents driving about, both with different aims. The tourists are here enjoying our Peninsula, taking their time to drive reasonably and take in the beautiful surroundings that many of us seem to be taking for granted these days.
Many of our residents, however, no longer look about with wonder at the charming area where we live. We are in a hurry to get to town and in a hurry to get home. We are tailgating cars that are driving near the speed limit. We are passing in no passing zones. We are speeding well beyond the speed limit, passing left-turning cars on the shoulder and slamming on horns. In short, we are driving aggressively and dangerously and illegally.
It’s time to slow down. Speeding has become a common complaint of residents on most of our main roads. We need to remember that the Old Mission Peninsula is a neighborhood, and that it is mostly residential and agricultural.
When I first started coming out to Old Mission more than 40 years ago, it was quiet, beautiful and unhurried. When my wife’s family bought a summer home on the Peninsula more than 55 years ago, the family dog would actually sleep on Center Road in the sun. The few cars that went by would slowly go around him, and the farmers on tractors would stop to say “Hi.”
Today, we have tenfold the traffic traveling at much greater speeds, but at the same time, our beautiful Peninsula attracts cycling and jogging clubs. Our own residents go out for a jog, take their pets out for walks, or ride bikes with their kids. The increased auto traffic and the increased pedestrian/cycling traffic are at odds.
The speed limit on Center Road is 55 mph. That’s 55 mph on a residential, scenic road that passes numerous homes on its way to a dead end at our quaint, historic lighthouse! There are miles of Center Road that should have a 45 mph speed limit or less for numerous reasons. It would be safer for residents, safer for tourists, safer for cyclists, safer for children, safer for our pets, and safer for pedestrians.
As an added benefit, a 45 mph speed limit on Center Road would greatly reduce traffic noise. I can stand outside a million dollar home on the Old Mission Peninsula that is hundreds of yards from Center Road, yet the noise from Center Road will be what you notice first about the home and what you notice most.
Reducing our speed limits in our residential areas will increase the enjoyability of our beautiful Peninsula for everyone, and it won’t cost anyone a dime.