City officials seek input on making Crawford Road safer


Central Michigan University freshman Ryan Tsatsos was killed in a hit-and-run incident on Crawford Road on Nov. 1 2015.

It’s been one year since Macomb freshman Ryan Tsatsos was killed in an unsolved hit-and-run incident on Crawford Road, southwest of Central Michigan University’s campus.

Since then, members of the Mount Pleasant city government have been working to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.

This past spring, Union Township Supervisor Russ Alwood called for a meeting of local officials to discuss the possibility of installing a sidewalk along Crawford Road for safety. After the group got an estimate of $840,000 for constructing a sidewalk with lights, they came up with two different options.

Sidewalk could be installed along Crawford Road without lights for $460,000, or a different route could be paved east of there. This alternate route would build off an existing pathway, have lights and require less sidewalk. This makes the route more cost-effective, in addition to being lit.

Mount Pleasant City Manager Nancy Ridley said the city commission wants input from student leaders on which route they prefer and why before making a decision on the path to pave.

“If we are going to put money into making this safer, we want to make sure that it’s a route students will feel comfortable using,” she said. “It wouldn’t make sense to put in an unlit sidewalk and find out students won’t walk along there because they don’t feel safe.”

The group has to decide which route to pave before they can apply for grants. Any grants received for a Crawford Road route cannot be switched over to the other project if they do not raise the full amount.

Ridley said safety “always has to win,” but the city also has to be able to afford it.

“If we can find a way to work together to increase safety, where is the best place to put the money?” she said. “I’m not sure we will get a definitive answer (from students), but it seems like we should attempt to get input before we decide.”

Mount Clemens junior Amanda Blok lives in WestPoint Village, an apartment complex along Crawford Road. She said she always sees people walking to class along Crawford, and is nervous when it gets dark and students are close to the road.

She prefers the lighted path, however, as “(not having) light is (her) biggest problem” with the Crawford Road route. Blok doesn’t think a sidewalk along Crawford will be as effective if there aren’t lights.

Kevin Troshak, another resident at WestPoint Village, said he prefers to have sidewalk along Crawford Road. The Howell senior walks along it every day to get to his classes at Finch Fieldhouse.

“I don’t necessarily feel unsafe using (Crawford Road). I usually walk pretty far off from the road,” he said. “Crossing (Broomfield) kind of sucks, (and) I tried running one time (along the southern part of Crawford) and that was pretty terrifying. I don’t do that anymore.”

The group that met last spring about putting sidewalk along Crawford Road included Alwood from Union Township, representatives from the city, CMU, the county Road Commission, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and Rowe Professional Services Company. Rowe would be contracted to engineer the project.

Steve Clark, project administrator for Rowe, said some finances can come from two M-DOT grants they can apply for. This would only cover construction costs. Other costs, like engineering, would have to be shared by the stakeholders, which includes Union Township, the city, road commission, CMU and private landowners — whoever owns property along the routes.

Alwood said they would need about $70,000 for engineering Crawford Road. Other ideas for funding besides grants are currently in the works, Ridley said.

Something included in the discussion about which route was the fact the group of students walking late at night during the fatality had been freshmen. Clark said maybe if they knew about the alternate route, things might have been different.

He said campus layout education could have potentially prevented the fatality.

“The result of the fatality last fall occurred north of Denison Drive along Crawford Road,” Clark said. “If those students had actually taken a right and headed east on Denison (Drive), there was a lighted path that would almost get them all the way to the Towers (Residence Hall).”

This is the lighted path that would be added onto as an alternate route, instead of putting sidewalk along Crawford. Ridley mentioned the possibility of putting up signs to make walkers more aware of where the path leads.

Alwood said getting approval and finances for new sidewalk can take a long time due to “red tape.” He has made putting sidewalk in strategic areas within Mount Pleasant a personal mission during his time in office for the last four years.

He put together the initial meeting last March after getting a call from a resident on Crawford Road who was “very upset” about Tsatsos’s fate and the safety issues concerning walkers and the road. With the anniversary of Tsatsos’s death on Nov. 1, Alwood said it does “make it more urgent” for a decision to be made.

“I think everyone is in favor of some type of sidewalk,” Alwood said. “It’s such a dangerous road.”