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Semi traffic a major 'quality of life' issue for some GR businesses, group says

The group launched a campaign geared to curb traffic on the Southwest side amid safety and business-related concerns.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A number of business owners on Grand Rapids’ Southwest side demanded change over a noisy, dusty, persistent presence in their lives...

Suggesting the volume of traffic on Cesar E. Chavez Avenue has been a problem for years, and they wanted to see it addressed.

“This is a neighborhood that I was born into. I've had my business here for over 25 years.”

Samaria J’s Salon Suite and owner Synia Gant-Jordan have seen a lot of vehicles come and go in the decades the small business has occupied this spot on Cesar E Chavez, known as the Grandville corridor, not all of them welcome.   

“I have always experienced this truck traffic,” Gant-Jordan said. “It has not calmed down at all.”

Concerned over excessive speeds and the number of semi drivers on the road, which she said frequently kick up dust and shake the building.

“Right here, we don't feel safe at all with the truck traffic... We have schools here in our corridor along with several churches… People don't feel safe, and it does absolutely impact our small businesses.”

A map displayed on the city’s website delineates its designated trucking routes.

At the time of publication Cesar E. Chavez, listed as Grandville, was highlighted in red, which the map’s key indicated was intended to denote an approved route.

No longer, however.

The city confirmed a change implemented since the map’s printing in 2017 meant the route now terminated at Logan, blocks north of the salon.

Though, the city said it couldn’t prevent commercial traffic from utilizing major corridors including the one in question, regardless of their status as designated routes, encouraging truck drivers to instead utilize the following alternate routes:

  • Godfrey
  • Century
  • Division

A spokesperson noted that signage had also recently been installed where Cesar E. Chavez intersects Godfrey, noting commercial traffic should proceed down Godfrey.

It pointed to a number of recent or ongoing projects intended to remedy known issues, citing work from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Beacon, Clyde Park to Stolpe and Stolpe to Hall.

Traffic Safety, it said, had collaborated on the design.

“Vital Streets guidelines are being used for projects along Cesar Chavez for traffic calming, multi-modal use, and parkway and sidewalk improvements to make the street feel more like a destination,” the city said in an emailed communication to 13 ON YOUR SIDE.

Gant-Jordan criticized the pace of progress, frustrated by what she viewed as a lack of definitive action.

“I feel like if it was in another area of the city, it would have been taken care of,” Gant-Jordan concluded.

“There's just a quality-of-life issue,” Amy Brower, president of the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association noted. “We're asking cars to slow down and kind of look around and realize that this is a great neighborhood. Maybe they could stop, check out some of our local restaurants or businesses, and then just help keep our kids and our families safe.”

In conjunction with the West Michigan Business Forum, the Southwest Business Association and the area Corridor Improvement Authority, Gant-Jordan and others launched a traffic safety campaign intended to minimize accidents and curb commercial traffic.

Questions of environmental injustice, Brower said, had also arisen:

“The southern part of the neighborhood was identified as one of the hottest spots in the environmental injustice study by the University of Michigan,” she said. “I think that is a real call to action between its proximity to US 131, the highway, the heavy traffic on Grandville Avenue, some of the industry. There really needs to be a lot of investment coming in.”

For more information on the campaign, visit its website.

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