By David Fleet
Earlier this spring the Michigan Department of Transportation conducted a study that measured peak hour traffic on M-15 between Richfield Road (north of Davison) to the Oakland-Genesee county line. Positioning video cameras along M-15 at Richfield Road, Lippincott Boulevard and the Oakland-Genesee county line, vehicles were tracked heading south in the morning and north
bound traffic was recorded in the evening.
According to the study about 46 percent of the vehicles during those time periods that crossed the Oakland-Genesee county line started (or ended) their journey at I-69. About 15 percent originated or ended at Richfield Road.
The data which collected April 26, 27 and 28 seems to indicate that commuter traffic from I-69 comprises a high percentage of the approximately 13,000 traveling M-15 each day.
‘Given the data car pools along I-69 would be an option to reduce the traffic on M-15,? said Dave Geiger, Michigan Department of Transportation planning specialist. ‘However it’s one thing to establish the (commuter) lots, it’s another thing to get someone to get in someone elses car.?
The commuter traffic from Genesee County south can be attributed to a variety of factors says Thomas Goergen, associate director of the Genesee County planning commission, which assists county municipalities with urbanization issues.
The move of Delphi Automotive Systems to Troy, the closure of Buick City in the 1990s and the lower cost of land in Genesee County all factors says Goergen, that have escalates traffic from Genesee County during the past years.
‘When you compare the cost of land and housing in Genesee County to that in Oakland County it’s no wonder why traffic’s heading south,? said Goergen. ‘There’s not a cheap alternative to the property costs.?
While several factors have added to the traffic on M-15, a quick fix to the daily mass exodus won’t be easy.
Rene Hinojosa, professor of urban and regional planning at Michigan State University suggests drivers have not realized enough stress yet.
‘Michigan roads are not as congested as those in California and Washington where commuters realize they have to shift the trend,? said Hinojosa.
‘Traffic has to get really bad to make commuters uncomfortable or drivers won’t change. There must be a compelling reason, such as travel time or serious over congestion.?
The population growth rate here is just not great enough, says Hinojosa.
‘Unlike the Sun Belt or the Northwest states where the population goes up each year, the Oakland-Genesee (county) populations have simply spread-out over a greater area.?
By David Fleet