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Posted on Sun, Nov 14, 2010 : 5:55 a.m.

Pittsfield Township officials look to make pedestrian safety improvements in Carpenter Road corridor

By Tom Perkins


A pedestrian hustles his way across Carpenter Road where it intersects Washtenaw Avenue in Pittsfield Township on a recent morning.

Lon Horwedel |

Pittsfield Township officials are stepping up efforts to improve pedestrian safety in an area where an 84-year-old man was struck and killed by a car last week and a man in a wheelchair was hit and injured several weeks ago.

The fatality occurred on Carpenter Road between Packard Road and Washtenaw Avenue where there are no crosswalks in the roughly mile-long stretch. The man in the wheelchair was hit on Carpenter between Packard and Ellsworth roads.

The five-lane stretch of Carpenter Road between Packard and Washtenaw is scheduled for repaving in 2012. That project will now likely include the installation of crosswalks and other safety improvements, though officials say some safety measures could be phased in sooner.

Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal met with officials from the Washtenaw County Road Commission on Wednesday to discuss pedestrian safety improvements in the high-density corridor, and the township’s Road Committee is taking up the issue at its Nov. 18 meeting.

Among considerations for improving the area are “mid-block” crosswalks, expanding the sidewalk system, additional signs and more street lamps.

Grewal said the issue was a concern before the man was struck, but the incident brings safety there to the forefront. Ron Torrella, a Road Committee representative from the area, also said he had discussed pedestrian safety concerns in the area via e-mail with other Road Committee members.

As the township’s master plan specifies, officials are aiming to install crosswalks mid-block in high use areas where intersections are more than a half-mile apart.

“It has already been on our radar screen and I think what this does is put it on the front burner, and now we need to do something sooner rather than later,” Grewal said.

Grewal said no specific timeline or measures have been determined, but those details will be discussed in the coming months. The township has already been expanding its sidewalk system in the area using a $100,000 Community Development Block Grant. Sidewalk expansions include those on Golfside between Packard and Clark roads, Washtenaw between Golfside and Carpenter roads, Carpenter at Packard and the south side of Packard near Golfside Road.

Torrella lives near the intersection of Packard and Carpenter roads and represents the area on the township’s Road Committee. Grewal established the committee about a year ago to provide resident input on transportation issues. It has 12 appointed representatives. It meets quarterly and is a separate entity from the Road Commission.

Torrella said he jogs and bikes along the roadways in the area and said many of them are dangerous. He said pedestrians routinely cross the busy street in the corridor to get to businesses in the area.

Guests at the two hotels on the east and west sides of Carpenter Road near Washtenaw Avenue must cross to get to the Red Lobster and Bob Evans restaurants located on the opposite sides of the street, Torrella said. He said people also park across the street from the Nie Funeral home when its parking lot fills.

Additionally, bus stops are located mid-block between Packard and Washtenaw, so people regularly just cross where they are dropped off, Torrella said.

“It’s an inherently dangerous situation,” he said. “You have two hotels, restaurants, and bus stops on both sides and no way for anybody to get across Carpenter safely without either going north to the Washtenaw intersection, which is bad, or south to Packard, which is just as bad. There’s just no place in between.”

Roy Townsend, director of engineering for the Washtenaw County Road Commission, said several types of crosswalks could be installed, but the commission would likely recommend one that included striping and a concrete island in the middle.

He said crosswalks with islands are generally safer for five-lane roads because they cut in half the number of lanes a pedestrian needs to cross at one time. He said the location of the crosswalk would depend on side streets and driveways because one can’t be placed in a spot where it interferes with traffic turning left. He estimated the total cost of installing at around $10,000.

Debbie Adams, who is the director of the American House assisted-living facility on Carpenter between Ellsworth and Packard roads, said people regularly cross in the middle of the block. It was near American House that a person in a wheelchair was struck and injured recently, though the person was not living at or visiting American House.

“It’s the compromised people — the elderly and the handicapped — who can’t run fast enough to get to the other side of the road who really have to worry,” she said. “The people who can dart across can dodge the cars. You watch so many people go across the street that it was just a matter of time before someone got hurt. I hope (the township) takes this to heart and does something.”


Basic Bob

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 11:54 a.m.

@5c0, Nie Funeral Home (at the blue sign) is on the right side, so the view is facing south. The cross street in the foreground is Washtenaw, the two driveways on the right are Palm Palace and Quality Inn. If you are on the north side of Washtenaw, you are in front of Mr. Tunes and the county jail, aka Hogback Hilton. Don't ask how I know this.;D @Pitts Res, You would have to go back a long time to find the board members responsible for the township building. It was built in 1995, and Mr. Woolley was the appointed Republican supervisor after Mr. Morris (also a Republican) retired. Mr. Walter's Democratic team came to power in 2000, in opposition to the Newmarket development.

5c0++ H4d13y

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 12:42 a.m.

@Basic Bob you're wrong. That's carpenter. Spend some time with google street level view and you'll see.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 12:01 a.m.

We've spent decades making roads like Carpenter and Washtenaw unfriendly to pedestrians. These multi-lane thoroughfares repesent part of the legacy of a long-term trend in suburban planning in which pedestrians were all but presumed to be a group approaching extinction. Other than in downtown zones, no one was expected to get around except in a vehicle. It cost a good deal in accumulated public and private investment to gradually construct hostile, dangerous traffic environments for walkers along busy roads in outlying areas. Not surprisingly, it's certainly going to cost something to reengineer these street spaces after-the-fact to more appropriately accomodate the forgotten pedestrian users.

Alan Benard

Sun, Nov 14, 2010 : 9:13 p.m.

It is a shame that it literally requires that people be killed while walking near a road for improvements to be discussed. The time has long passed for pedestrian and cycling accommodations be made along this well-traveled route.

Pitts Res

Sun, Nov 14, 2010 : 7:46 p.m.

They paid cash for the Township hall. Actually, they don't finance anything other than land for parks. All that was done by the previous board and elected officials, not the current board.


Sun, Nov 14, 2010 : 1:33 p.m.

Better late than never eh Pittsfield? After the housing boom of the 90's and into the 2000's, Pittsfield saw exponential growth in their population and the tax base that went along with it. They chose to squander their tax revenue on the palatial Township castle that they built on Michigan Avenue. The money they didn't have was raised by an over zealous police force who used every opportunity to stop motorists and fine then in an attempt to pay off the notes on that palace. Now that they've gotten through their financial problems, they can go ahead and address the needs of the citizens. Thanks a lot Pittsfield Township board, thanks a lot.


Sun, Nov 14, 2010 : 1:28 p.m.

It completely baffles me that there is no crosswalk on Carpenter at American House and Carpenter Place. Instead, the elderly are expected to cross at the Center Valley Drive stoplight by Starbucks if they need to cross Carpenter to get to the bus stop that is right in front of their homes. Also, American House is an independent living community for seniors, as opposed to an assisted living facility.


Sun, Nov 14, 2010 : 9:17 a.m.

Any one, handicap or not, is in danger while trying to navigate either Carpenter or Washtenaw by any means other than a car. It amazes me that, for an areas that is so passionate about walking, health, public transit, and walk-ability, we have allowed our busiest transit corridors to to be pedestrian no-go zones.


Sun, Nov 14, 2010 : 8:59 a.m.

this part of the road has been neglected for far too long and I've always been curious as to why there are no cross walks given that there are several bus stops along this stretch. Speed can hardly be a factor in any incident up and down carpentar because the condition of the road, the trafic and the lights won't allow for it but I don't suppose that matters when someone dies trying to cross. 2012 doesn't seem soon enough.

Basic Bob

Sun, Nov 14, 2010 : 8:48 a.m.

The photo shows a young man running across Hogback Road, rather than Carpenter. It is virtually impossible to cross on the opposite side due to the large volume of turning traffic. While Hogback is three lanes wide at the intersection, Carpenter is six lanes wide. Try doing that in a wheelchair.

Fred Crothers

Sun, Nov 14, 2010 : 8:43 a.m.

WHY does it take someone usually a senior citizen or handicap individual to either get KILLED or hurt seriously before the people "in charge of our welfare, and are elected to over see our safety and well being" to act! I've lived in this area for 60 plus years, I've seen dirt roads changed into super highways, not much thought for the bike/pedestrian. Build multiple businesses to attract the public and DON'T provide the proper road structure for the "public" to get there SAFELY! Oh I almost forgot let's create more parks and forget our working public that placed these officials in office!!


Sun, Nov 14, 2010 : 7:12 a.m.

I'm handicapped, in a wheelchair and live near ArborLand - I try to take aata as much as possible but the cars are going faster and faster everywhere ( we are very good at powering cars! ) making crossing so much more dangerous, Add to that the lack of ramps at stops, and you have a nightmare. Please do something to correct the situation. thanks