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LSJ: East Lansing Asks Court To Lower Speed Limits

February 24th, 2005 Leave a comment Go to comments

Lansing State Journal:E.L. asks judge to lower new speed limits

I’ve spent almost my entire life in Michigan. I grew up in Haslett, moved to East Lansing when I started college, and have spent the last two years renting a house in Lansing.

It’s developments like this that make me glad I don’t live in EL anymore.

Here’s the situation: for the many years now the EL city council has been controlled (mostly) by a bunch of people who seem to have their heads stuck up their nether regions. Among their list of perplexing positions is the fact that they don’t realize the students of MSU make the city what it is. So instead of trying to make student life easier they reduce the number of available rental units , tie up efforts to reduce traffic problems, and generally promote an atmosphere of dislike and annoyance with the students in general.

Now granted this doesn’t have much to do with speed limits, but the way they are handling this is just one more indicator of their incredibly messed up priorities.

3 weeks ago MDOT (Michigan dept of transportation) did a study on two high-traffic roads in East Lansing. They concluded that these streets had such high levels of traffic that the drivers obeying the speed limit were actually causing back-ups and dangerous situations. So they raised the speed limit on two sections of road. Not the whole road, just a section of two different roads in two different places (Grand River between Michigan Ave and Coolidge, and Saginaw between Oakland and Abbott).

Here’s where the city of EL decided to step in. According to MDOT, once they perform a study and make a recommendation that study is binding. This makes sense, because after all why would we want to spend the money to do a study only to have a city council reject the findings (which they almost certainly would, and most likely without explanation). Perhaps the best way to sum up EL’s city council is HIGHLY RESISTANT TO CHANGE. Sorry folks, but change is the only thing that keeps highly complex systems (such as a CITY) alive.

Anyway, EL is trying to say that MDOT lacks the authority to change the speed limits. Two weeks ago the speed limits on both road sections were raised by 10 mph per MDOT (I use these roads all the time and was happy to see MDOT vehicles out there installing these larger-than-normal speed limit signs).

Here’s my favorite part of the story: Thus far in the story all EL did was whine. Earlier this week a circuit judge raised EL’s speeding ticket penalties by $40, a 30% increase raising the tickets to $175 (originally $135). Here’s the catch, the increased tickets are ONLY being handed out in the two sections of road in question.

So here’s the situation we residents (you know, the people who live in this city, we kinda matter) are left with:

1. There are a bunch of cops who’ve been instructed to hand out $175 tickets if you go ONE MILE PER HOUR over the speed limit. These cops know the situation, and they have no qualms about what they’re doing.

2. Half the residents in this town don’t know what speed to drive in the two road sections. I’m sure plenty of them simply lack the observational capacity to notice the new signs, but there are many who seem to be going (what is now) 10 mph under the new speed limit as a form of protest. I can almost hear them in their cars now… “Blasted state government!!! Don’t they know that we ALWAYS know what is best and right for us???” If the city had just lodged a protest with MDOT so they could work together more the next time this happens we wouldn’t have the dangerous driving conditions that these roads now have.

The end result of all this is that EL has now taken the matter to court, and will be seeking an injunction to have the limits on both roads immediately lowered back to their former levels.

They are also asking the judge to rule that MDOT lacks the authority to make these types of changes, which infuriates me to no end. Michigan has been beleaguered by budget problems for several years now, and this would just suck more money out of the state’s accounts. Every local government in the state would have the right to challenge/rule on all of MDOT’s findings.

*sigh* What happened to the cooperative world I used to feel I lived in? How can we teach children to share and work together when this is the kind of crap our leaders perpetuate?

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