A Better Traverse City Parkway: What’s Important to You?

Ty Schmidt
3 min readFeb 16, 2022

This is the third story of the “Better Traverse City Parkway” series. Read #1 (Imagination, Attention and Action Required) and #2 (What now?)

Last week, the City Commission voted unanimously to direct the City Attorney to engage outside counsel to write a legal opinion on the 1947 agreement between Traverse City and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). There should be an update in early March.

While this is in progress, city leadership will also travel to Lansing to meet with MDOT leadership.

So what now? If the City has an equal seat at the table, what do we want?

People First?

East Front at Rose. Four feet of ice-covered sidewalk for people. Two-foot buffer. 44 feet of clear pavement for cars. The proposed MDOT design eliminates the buffer.

In January, I published five of my wants that are important for this redesign.

In addition to wider sidewalks and trails with buffers and pedestrian-scale lights and planting 100+ trees that can grow into big ass canopy trees — my number one want is:

A true people-first Parkway.

“But Ty, how can we possibly do that and move cars east to west?”

Here’s one simple idea that my friend, neighbor, and mentor, Bob Otwell, shared with me:

EAST FRONT STREET (Garfield to Front Street)

  • Design speed 25 mph — capacity 25,000 vehicles per day.
  • Narrow lanes, big trees, pedestrian-scale lights, and elimination of driveways where possible.
  • Two thru lanes and left-turn lane.
  • Cross-walks at Garfield, Peninsula Drive, Hope and East Front.
  • A multi-use trail with a buffer on the north side of the street, sidewalk with a buffer on the south side, all within the existing MDOT right of way.

PARKWAY (Front Street to Division)

  • Design speed 25 mph — capacity 20–25,000 vehicles per day.
  • Narrow lanes, big trees, pedestrian-scale lights.
  • Two thru lanes.
  • Left turn lanes and cross-walks at Park, Cass Union, Hall, Oak, and Division.
  • TART Trail on the north side, a sidewalk on the south side, all within MDOT’s existing right of way.

What’s Important to You?

In addition to the 1947 agreement in limbo, MDOT’s commitment to “quality of life” and “complete streets” (streets for both cars + people) has provided an opportunity.

An opportunity to let decision-makers know what we, as City residents, want.

What’s important to you?

What do you value?

What kind of process would you like to see?

Take this short but sweet survey.

Members of Citizens For A Better Parkway will share responses with City leadership.

Citizens For A Better Parkway

To date, 60+ people have joined Citizens For A Better Parkway.

You can get involved HERE.



Ty Schmidt

Manitoba made now proud Michigander living in Traverse City. Dad, husband, community organizer and founder of Carter's Compost, Norte, and Good Works Lab.