Southgate man fighting to have crosswalks returned

‘The kids that live on the west side of Fort Street in Riverview cannot cross mid-block to get to school on the east side of Fort Street safely. This issue needs to be addressed, and soon, before someone’s child is killed trying to get to the other side of Fort Street.’
— Rick Whitson
Southgate resident

By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – Rick Whitson lives across the street from the grocery store, insurance office and other businesses he frequents, but he can’t walk to them. He has to drive.

“There is no mid crosswalk,” said Whitson, of Southgate, who lives on Chestnut at Fort Street, the border of Wyandotte and Southgate.

Whitson has sent letters to city councils in Southgate, Wyandotte and Riverview.

“I am hoping that I can get the people of the three cities to work with me and help make Fort Street safe for pedestrian traffic again,” Whitson said Thursday.

Whitson said that for more than a year he has tried to convince the Michigan Department of Transportation to put all the crosswalks back where they were before MDOT fixed Fort Street.

“MDOT took out all the mid-block crosswalks and crossing lights, making the only crosswalk at one mile roads,” Whitson said. “The only place bike and walking traffic can cross Fort Street is at Goddard Road, Northline Road, Eureka Road, Pennsylvania Road and Sibley Road. There is no safe way to cross Fort Street anywhere between.

“The only way for me to get to the grocery store across Fort Street from my house on foot or bike is to go to Eureka, six blocks south, cross there and go six blocks back to Oak Street where the grocery store is.”

Whitson said it makes no sense to him that MDOT decided to remove the safe crossings in the mid-block locations.

“How does MDOT expect people that live on the west side of Fort Street to walk or bike to get to the east side of Fort Street?” he asked “How do the kids that live on the west side of Fort Street in Riverview get to school on the east side?”

He said the lack of a crossing light doesn’t keep people from crossing anyway. He said daily he sees people walking, young children on bikes and people pushing strollers and runners cross the street between cars and big trucks to go shopping.

“Just this week I saw a young mom, in a dress, running across pushing a baby in a stroller, from the grocery store,” Whitson said. “It made me sick. I have contacted MDOT several times on this matter in the almost three years they have been working Fort Street.

“They tell me they know what they are doing, and they are not going to change it. I have begged them to reconsider, but nothing has happened to fix the problem.”

Whitson said he hopes the problem is corrected before someone is killed.

Jack Jenkins of Southgate visits the area daily to ride his bicycle.

“It is a hazard,” Jenkins said of the lack of mid-block crosswalks. “I’m surprised no one has been hurt, or worse.”

Wyandotte resident Melissa Arredondo understands what Whitson is talking about.

“Every time I try to cross this mini-freeway to ride my bike, I feel like I am taking my life into my own hands,” Arredondo said.

“The people of Wyandotte and Southgate have been divided from shopping at Oak and Fort Street, unless they drive their car across Fort Street,” Whitson said.

“The kids that live on the west side of Fort Street in Riverview cannot cross mid-block to get to school on the east side of Fort Street safely. This issue needs to be addressed, and soon, before someone’s child is killed trying to get to the other side of Fort Street.”

MDOT officials said MDOT plans to conduct a walkability study of the area in September.

(Tereasa Nims can be reached at tnims@bewickpublications.com.)

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