CADILLAC — One of the more notable actions recommended by researchers to improve the Cadillac West Corridor is the construction of a new roundabout at the corner of M-115 and Mackinaw Trail.
Officials with Networks Northwest, the Alliance for Economic Success and development planning firm Beckett and Raeder recently conducted a study on the corridor to identify its strengths and weakness, along with a plan for its future.
At a public meeting Monday, John Iacoangeli, with Becket and Raeder, outlined his firm's recommendations for the corridor, which is comprised of land along M-115 and M-55 in Cadillac, Cherry Grove Township and Clam Lake Township.
Iacoangeli said the intersection of M-115 and Mackinaw Trail is designed similarly to the intersection of M-115 and M-37, near Mesick, where a roundabout already exists.
The goal of building a new roundabout at this location would be to slow down traffic coming into the corridor, as well as draw more visitors down Mackinaw Trail into downtown Cadillac with the use of wayfinding signs.
Traffic congestion in Cadillac West was identified as one of the main problems with the area, which has multi-million dollar market potential for a variety of industries serving both tourists and locals, Iacoangeli said.
Building a roundabout is one of several suggested projects hoped to "tame" the traffic and create a better flow through the corridor.
Other suggestions include making the M-115/Sunnyside Drive intersection at the former site of Frosty Cup restaurant a T instead of an acute angle to reduce confusion, and modifying business access points at the M-115/M-55 intersection so drivers pulling out of the Shell gas station don't have to exit into the middle of the intersection.
The report also suggests development in the corridor be focused in two "nodes" — one at Cadillac West and the other on Mackinaw Trail near the business district that includes a number of medical facilities and Evergreen Resort.
Other areas of the corridor that already contain farmlands, open space and residential neighborhoods should remain the same, Iacoangeli said.
Focusing development in only two areas is more effective than spreading it out along the entire corridor, Iacoangeli said, because it creates a "place" with cohesive character rather than commercial sprawl.
Other suggestions included in the report include the construction of additional sidewalk in Cadillac West to improve walkability between businesses; obtaining a "Trail Town" designation to take advantage of bicycle and snowmobile trails in the area; creating a walking bridge between the RV park in the Mitchell State Park and North Boulevard; and total redevelopment of the strip mall in Cadillac West.
"Suggested uses would include coffee shop, over-the-counter food service (pizza, sandwiches, etc.), laundry facility, small convenience grocery store, and sporting goods and services," the report states.
"In addition, it is suggested that long-term consideration be given to acquiring and removing the Shell gas station and relocating the entrance to the State Park at the intersection. This would provide both a vehicular and pedestrian entrance at the intersection. Defined crosswalks with the installation of mast arm traffic signalization would provide more definition to the intersection that also favors pedestrian activity."
Many of the recommendations outlined in the report are years away from realistically coming to fruition and before anything can be done, several major obstacles have to be overcome.
Iacoangeli said a project of this scope will require a lot of work, which is why he is suggesting a couple "easy wins" to get the ball rolling.
The first of these will be the creation of an "overlay zone" between the city and townships to establish signage standards and access points — something that could be accomplished this year.
Read the Northern Life section of this weekend's Cadillac News for more details on the recommendations made in the report.