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Posted on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 7:26 a.m.

Roundabout at Geddes and Ridge: New charter school will pay for construction

By Amy Biolchini


The Washtenaw County Road Commission's draft plan for a new roundabout at Geddes and Ridge roads in Superior Township, as presented Tuesday at a public meeting for residents.

Amy Biolchini |

A new roundabout in the Geddes Road corridor at the intersection of Ridge Road in Superior Township will solve current and future traffic problems, Washtenaw County Road Commission staff said Tuesday.

In a public meeting hosted at the Superior Township Hall Tuesday night, the road commission’s engineers described to about 12 people the construction timeline slated for this summer.

Both the public and the road commission are hopeful that the project will fix the traffic backups that make the four-way stop congested during morning and afternoon hours when people are traveling to and from a new school that just opened at the intersection: The South Pointe Scholars Charter Academy. The intersection wasn’t originally on the road commission’s list to be upgraded to a roundabout, but the school requested the project and will pay for construction, said Matt MacDonell, senior project manager for the road commission.

The school opened this fall and is opening its classrooms in phases. It houses K-6 and will be adding a grade and more students and grades each year until eighth grade.

Construction of the single-lane roundabout is slated to begin in mid June once school is out of session and is on a tight 60-day schedule for completion.

As a result of the short schedule, the intersection will be completely closed for the work. Access to the school will be maintained from westbound Geddes Road only.

Linda Osgood has lived on a small 11-acre farm at the southwest corner of Geddes and Ridge roads for the past 19 years.

Her home and horse pasture are the closest properties to the new project. Osgood said that while she didn’t like roundabouts at first, after driving through them she came to like them better.

A roundabout will be a good fit for the intersection, Osgood said, remarking that many drivers carelessly don’t stop at the stop sign in the intersection now.

However, Osgood said she takes the roundabout as a sign of increasing new development in the area as the surrounding land that was once primarily agricultural turns residential.

It’s a trend that the road commission is trying to plan for by installing the roundabout, MacDonell said.

There was some concern expressed at the public meeting regarding heavy machinery and dust that would be generated by the project, as well as additional lights that the commission is planning to install at the intersection.

The project’s cost is in the $1 million range and will be put out to bid in February. For the first time, the road commission will be asking for separate bids for asphalt and concrete surfaces to see which is the most cost effective for the project.

The South Pointe Scholars Charter Academy will be paying for the construction of the roundabout, and the road commission will be paying for “shared costs” with the project that include warning signs and notifications to drivers, MacDonell said.

The commission is also planning to replace a culvert just south of the intersection and south of the entrance to the school from Ridge Road, and to repave Geddes Road from Prospect Avenue to the eastern county line.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 6:28 p.m.

So can tell us, is the money to pay for the roundabout coming from tax dollars or not?


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 12:46 p.m.

Too bad the road commission does not get just as excited about fixing the roads we already have. Like Ann Arbor - Saline over I-94 or Carpenter between Washtenaw & Packard. If they really get bored, they could work on the miles of neglected rural roads. Dead trees to remove, ditches to maintain and driving surface improvements. But, as Mr. Townsend stated to the reporter in an earlier comment, they "have no money" to spend on projects. I find it curious how our tax dollars get channeled through a charter school and come back out as funding for road improvements.

Superior Twp voter

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

Ms. Biolchini - Thank you checking on my question and your quick response. I thought that was probably the case, and Mr. Townsend knows about it.

Amy Biolchini

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

No problem! That's what I'm here for.

Superior Twp voter

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

Thank you for checking (I meant).

Superior Twp voter

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 6:35 p.m.

Yea for the re-pave of Geddes from Prospect E to county line! It needs it. Ms. Biolchini - Any indication of a replacement bridge/culvert for that antiquated bridge just west of this intersection? Plenty narrow....

Amy Biolchini

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 8:01 p.m.

Ok. Per Roy Townsend, managing director of the Road Commission, the culvert on Geddes Road west of the intersection is outside of the project limits so it won't be replaced during the construction this summer. "The main reason is we don't have the additional $300 – 500,000 in our budget. Good question, just no money at this time to replace it," Townsend said in an email.

Amy Biolchini

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 7:20 p.m.

I've heard of problems from neighbors about that particular culvert, but that's not a part of this project. Let me check in with the road commission to see what they say.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

Roundabouts are the bomb. They totally cleaned up all traffic backups at: Geddes/Superior Geddes/Earhardt Nixon/Huron Parkway Best invention ever. I love those things. Wheeeeeeeeee!!!!


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 12:49 a.m.

I think I heard your radio playing round and round?


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:35 p.m.

Roundabouts just don't work in Michigan. Drivers zoom through without looking in any direction. The roundabouts built in SE MI are far too small, and not suitable for large semi trucks, which have tipped over in the past. You are replacing one set of problems for another set of problems.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 12:48 a.m.

Semi trucks tip over because they are going way too fast thru them. I think the speed limit is like 10 or so? Get real. Round abouts are a wonderful way to cut down on speeders. I too agree this area does need a round about.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

Correction -- Michigan TAXPAYERS and specifically Washtenaw Cty. taxpayers will pay for this construction. Charter Schools fleece operational revenue by taking tax payer funds diverted from our local public school districts, all while making a profit on "free" money. So, just like we paid to build this "charter school", we are paying to build the "construction" surrounding it.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:29 a.m.

Girl, it's the public unions that have stolen our tax dollars AND ruined our educational system to the point that private companies have to take over educating the kids because public unions are only interested in them as a revenue source. What you're really angry about....losing your revenue source to schools that actually care about educationg the students. You're also losing your monopoly power. If public teacher unions had not forgotten their primary function maybe we wouldn't have to privatize our kids education. So what are you going to do to change your ways instead of criticize the folks trying to fix the damage you've done to education.

Justin Altman

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 6:50 p.m.

The Tax money has already been stolen from you. It's not yours anymore. It's the State's, the City's, or the Municipality's. Don't like how it's spent? Stop giving it up in the first place and directly fund the things you care about.

Amy Biolchini

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

The Road Commission said some of the improvements will help prevent people from parking on both sides of Ridge Road south of the intersection, which neighbors said happens when parents try to pick up their children from the school.

Basic Bob

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 10:27 p.m.

Ok, JRW, how does one enter a roundabout correctly and get rear-ended? Perhaps they pulled out in front of moving traffic. Drivers should enter the roundabout only if they can safely accelerate into the roundabout without impeding traffic from the left. If people are hitting the back of your car you should have yielded, not force the other driver to merge.

Amy Biolchini

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 7:24 p.m.

The parking issue wasn't the only reason the Road Commission decided a roundabout was best for this intersection. I've also seen the opposite problem to the issue you cited of drivers not yielding: People coming to a complete stop and looking both ways before entering a roundabout, which is not the way they're intended to work. Parking on streets near schools is a separate issue, and I would agree with you that it's not the street design but enforcement of/compliance with parking rules that would likely address the problem.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:39 p.m.

That is not a sufficient reason to build an unnecessary roundabout, which only creates other problems. Drivers do NOT yield before zooming through the roundabout. I know several people who were yielding as they entered roundabouts in this area and were rear ended by aggressive drivers who didn't look and didn't slow down. Parents parking near schools is a huge problem all over A2 near schools. The solution is better enforcement of NO PARKING, NO STOPPING areas along roadways and streets. Have a cop car at the areas where parents think they have entitlement to park where ever they want to just because they are picking up or dropping off students. EVERYONE needs to obey the traffic rules.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

Oh whoopee! I can hardly wait.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

My how philanthropic and community oriented these parasites have suddenly become. JC Huizenga (National Heritage Academies CEO) who makes 5 million per annum does so by paying his labor peanuts and then turns around and tries to show what a great guy he is. But now that we have have right to work he must be feeling a little more confident that he will be abe to afford his next yacht. He is simply a businessman looking to turn a buck. It has absolutely nothing to do with the kids.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:20 a.m.

Aquarius, you are so wrong with such a negative attitude for folks who are trying to improve upon the education system that union controlled "parasites" have ruined while stealing our educational tax dollars to line their own pockets (think 85% of revenue going to salaries and benefits) and then have the nerve to ask for more tax dollars and complain and slander folks who actually want to deliver an education to the kids instead of using them as a revenue source. You, aquarius appear to be a major contributer to the problem rather than offering any kind of "constructive" contribution. You just seem angry because your power base is being more equitably distributed in the field of education.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 7:28 p.m.

Your libertarian, Mackinac Center talking points are exactly what I would expect from propagandized sheeple such as yourselves. National Heritage Academies fleeces the public of their tax dollars, skimps on infrastructure and hires low wage staff and the the top of the pyramid scheme, Mr. Huizenga gets all the profit. These schools have not produced the results they proclaim, however they have done a bang up job of resegregating education and increasing inequality. But what would you expect from a devotee of Dick/Betsy Devos and their Amway economic principles. You need to read something other than your americans for prosperity literature and stop listening to the talking heads on Fox. These scams are quickly being exposed for what they are and we are all waiting for the public accountability.

Justin Altman

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

He can only 'turn a buck" by making his consumers (parents) happy. He can only make the parents happy by treating their kids well. Therefore, for him, the amount of money that he makes is proportional to how well the kids are doing. The Public Schools are the parasites. They don't have customers that directly pay for services, they don't have rational pricing information, and they get their revenue coercively. If you want to start taking about people who don't care about the kids, why don't we look at the former head of the National Teacher's union who explicitly said he'd start caring about the kids when they started paying union dues. There are certainly things wrong with the schooling system today, but charter schools CEOs are much closer to being the solution than to being the problem.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.

A successful business man is making money? How evil! The administrators of the public schools would never be overpaid! By the way, where did you hear that his salary is $5 million or that he owns a yacht? I can't find any information about that on Google.

Dan r OBryan

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

a charter school can afford tp spend a million dollars for this project. the public schools cant afford to stay open . Ypsilanti and willow run merged and still have a 11 million dollar deficit. Maybe charters no how to balance a budget

Basic Bob

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 10:31 p.m.

@beardown, Most unionistas state that big corporations are stealing money from charter schools to fatten their purses. You are the first to tell us the big corporations are lightening their own wallets.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 8:03 p.m.

They also have billion dollar companies pumping in capital, which makes it infinitely easier to balance a budget. The public schools have back a@#ward governments as their benefactor.

Basic Bob

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

South Pointe Scholars doesn't have extra buildings, multiple layers of administration, top-heavy teacher salaries, or legacy retirement costs. They can afford a one-time expense spread over 10 years.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

Interesting! Does this mean the charter school will own the roundabout? If so, maybe they will decide to charge a toll for using their new road.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 12:46 a.m.

I doubt it. M Dot is probably jumping for joy if not the founder of round abouts, RIP, who will help maintain them. M DOT not the founder.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

I'm sure it is being discussed as we speak. These predators will stop at nothing to enrich themselves. But hey, it really is all about the kids isn't it? Afterall that is why they are called for-profit charters.