August 22, 2012 - A decision made by the Oxford Village Council last week means residents of the Willow Lake subdivision won't see a reduction in cut-through traffic when the new school year begins next month.
Council voted 3-1 to deny a traffic control order from Police Chief Mike Neymanowski that would have prohibited right-turns from westbound Lakeville Rd. onto State St. from 7-8 a.m. on school days only.
State St. leads in and out of the Willow Lake subdivision, connecting Lakeville and N. Oxford roads. It's often used by students looking for a shortcut to and from Oxford High School. The route is a way to avoid the traffic signal at the intersection of Lakeville and N. Oxford roads and the bumper-to-bumper vehicular backups that usually accompany it in the early morning and late afternoon.
"There is a lot of traffic during (those) particular hours," Neymanowski said. "Unfortunately, cut-throughs do speed."
Village President Tom Benner was opposed to the idea of showing "favoritism" by reducing the cut-through traffic woes on one public street while not doing the same thing for other public streets that experience similar traffic issues due to nearby schools.
"In all fairness to everybody, I don't think we should restrict people cutting through there (but still) let all the school buses go down Mechanic and Pontiac streets," he said. "Those are all residential streets."
Benner noted how OHS has created a "tremendous amount of traffic" on N. Glaspie St., the street on which he lives.
Neymanowski based his order on a license plate survey conducted by the Road Commission for Oakland County on September 19, 2006. The survey counted the number of vehicles that turned onto State St. from both Lakeville and N. Oxford roads in the morning (6:30 to 8:30 a.m.) and afternoon (2-4 p.m.).
"Our survey showed that during the A.M. period 50 vehicles from Lakeville Rd. (turned right and) entered State (Street) then took Lake Willow Drive to State to reach Oxford Road," according to a Jan. 17, 2007 road commission memo.
"During the P.M. period 43 vehicles turned left from Oxford Road and entered State Street."
As a result, the road commission recommended prohibiting left turns from N. Oxford Rd. onto State St. from 2:15 to 3:45 p.m. during school days only.
Because N. Oxford Rd. is located in the township, the township board was able to approve a traffic control order prohibiting left-turns there in 2007.
The road commission also recommended the village approve a traffic control order prohibiting right-turns from Lakeville Rd. onto State St. from 7-8 a.m. on school days only. That portion of Lakeville Rd. in under the village's control.
For some reason, it appears the village council never acted on this proposed order. The issue was brought to the attention of village Manager Joe Young about two or three weeks ago by Oxford Township Trustee Mike Spisz.
Councilman Dave Bailey noted that he didn't recall council receiving any complaints about cut-through traffic from Willow Lake residents over the last six years.
Based on that, he questioned the need to approve the order and spend village money on the appropriate signage, especially since the cut-through traffic is affecting a subdivision that's located entirely within the township's jurisdiction.
Bailey indicated he didn't trust the results of the traffic survey and would be open to either scheduling a public hearing on the subject or approaching the subdivision's homeowners association to garner its input.
"I would be much more sympathetic with posting that (no right-turn sign) if we had had people from the subdivision at the podium (for public comment)," Bailey explained. "We haven't heard from anybody from the podium in six years."
Neymanowski wasn't upset about council rejecting the order. He noted that officials made some "valid points."
Benner suggested that perhaps Neymanowski could talk with the Oakland County Sheriff's Department about coordinating their efforts concerning monitoring and regulating traffic entering and exiting the Willow Lake subdivision along N. Oxford and Lakeville roads.
"Just (having) a police car sitting there you know will slow the students down," he said.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.