By Lauren Walker
Entirely East Lansing staff writer
Take a ride down Sunset Lane going the required 25 mph to see if you think a four-way stop is needed at Sunset Lane and Clarendon Road. The actual crossing of the intersection appears in black and white at :19.
On Nov. 15, residents of the Glencairn neighborhood who had been lobbying for a four-way stop got the answer they had been looking for.
The East Lansing Transportation Commission unanimously approved a motion to send a request to the City Council to install a four-way stop at Sunset Lane and Clarendon Road. The vote came after a lengthy discussion.
About a dozen residents who live near the intersection in the northeast corner of Glencairn near Saginaw Street and Abbott Road attended the meeting and were adamant about the need for a stop sign at the intersection.
Joe Tuchinsky has lived at the intersection for more than 30 years. He has been involved in the Sunset and Clarendon issue since it was first presented to the commission June 21. It was tabled to await the results of a traffic study, which was conducted in September.
“We ask for what we didn’t receive in June, a motion of a commissioner to recommend to City Council that it put a stop sign in,” Tuchinsky said. “Having stop signs at one additional corner does not interfere a great deal with the 2,000 and some motorists who go through that route in a four-day period, but it will certainly give us a great deal of relief that the safety of our children is something our city cares about.”
Department of Public Works Director Todd Sneathen said installing a traffic stop is not recommended and it is has nothing to do with a lack of concern for children’s safety. He said that stop signs are typically installed in areas where assignment of right-of-way is a concern and where speeds exceed 30 mph. A sign costs about $1,000. The September traffic study did not appear to reflect either of these issues at the Sunset and Clarendon intersection.
Regardless of the findings, Steve Lanthom, who lives on Sunset Lane, said that a stop sign is necessary for the safety of pedestrians and neighbors.
“Our point is that those numbers sometimes don’t necessarily deal with the reality of the neighborhood,” Lanthom said. “If there’s a better way to slow traffic down, we’re certainly open to hearing that, but from our lay perspective the best option is to make (the intersection) into a four-way to stop and force people to stop, slow down and have less of that straight shot through the neighborhood in which to accelerate to see how quickly they can get around the traffic and or get back onto Saginaw.”Sunset Lane is one of the only straight roads connecting Grand River and Saginaw in the neighborhood, and Lanthom was referring to drivers trying to avoid traffic backups on either Abbott Road or Saginaw. He also reiterated what many of his neighbors noted, including the lack of sidewalks in the area, the four accidents that have occurred near the intersection in the past 20 years and the amount of children and traffic consisting of taxi-cabs and delivery cars in the area.
Board Member Barbara Hollstein warned residents about a false sense of security it may provide.
“The studies will let us know that, even if you put a stop sign up, they stop for the sign, but they’ll accelerate after it,” she said. “We have parameters that we study and we look at for our staff to say when a stop sign is effective and the numbers that are being presented here are right on a margin that says you may feel better about it, but you may not get a better result if you have stop sign.”
The motion passed and was sent to the City Council, where it was put on the Dec. 7 agenda.
If the council agrees to establish a four-way stop at Sunset and Clarendon, the transportation commission is planning a follow-up traffic study to gauge its effectiveness.
Following commission approval of the motion, Tuchinsky rose to thank the board. His neighbors offered a round of applause.
“In a couple of years, you may have other options to discuss if the data at that time indicates that the speeding problem really hasn’t evaded through the stop sign effort, but for the support in trying to find a solution, thank you,” Tuchinsky said.
See the Glencairn Neighborhood boundaries and location of the Sunset Lane/Clarendon Road intersection here: