Watertown Charter Township Non-Motorized Transportation Plan Executive Summary and Poster
August 15, 2022 - Author: Sam Linebaugh, Cole Ernst, Leanna Harris, Charles McCoy, Kyle Crane, Alec Champine, Ryan Brown, Patrick Marshall
This plan was prepared by the Watertown Charter Township Urban and Regional Planning Practicum Team, a group of eight undergraduate and graduate students as a part of the Planning Practicum capstone course at Michigan State University. The MSU practicum team worked alongside Watertown Charter Township staff to create this document. The purpose of this project is to review and update the existing non-motorized transportation plan, as well as existing infrastructure for non-motorized transport in Watertown Township and linkages to surrounding jurisdictions. This report highlights the existing conditions of the Township via a non-motorized transportation infrastructure review within the Township, as well as a socio-economic profile of the community to better understand the Township's needs. After conducting the review of non-motorized transportation infrastructure and reviewing the socio-economic profile data, the team recommended infrastructure additions for three specific ‘neighborhoods’ in which non-motorized transportation is needed the most.
In the North Airport Road neighborhood, the team recommends the expansion of the existing newly implemented sidewalks along Airport Road, this includes a 175’ northern expansion which will connect the existing sidewalk to the south entrance of Lakeside Preserve, a major residential subdivision. The team also identified that this sidewalk should be extended south along Airport Road to the Rosewood Hills subdivision, connecting the major residential subdivisions in the northeast section of the Township with each other, as well as to DeWitt Township. Additional crosswalks and signage will also be needed to complete this extension. The team has also identified the South Airport Road neighborhood as an area for future growth with the development of the Royal Scot and Nottingham Fields subdivisions. Future housing developments will dictate the sidewalk and crosswalk infrastructure, and it is recommended that the Township works directly with the developers when implementing new infrastructure. Additionally, the team suggests four-foot paved shoulders along Airport Road from State Road to West Stoll Road, and along West Stoll Road to the entrance of Nottingham Fields to connect the two subdivisions.
In the Wacousta neighborhood, the team suggests the revitalization or replacement of overgrown sidewalks along Wacousta and Herbison Roads to ensure safety, as many children and parents use these to commute to Wacousta Elementary. The installation of a sidewalk on the west side of Wacousta Road connecting the Klein Farm Subdivision to the existing sidewalk north of the Looking Glass River in the downtown area of Wacousta is also proposed. The completion of the sidewalk will connect both major subdivisions, both parks inside Wacousta, and the Wacousta Elementary School. Additional crosswalks and signage will also need to be implemented.
The team has also identified four projects outside of the immediate neighborhoods. A walking trail is proposed underneath the Consumers Energy utility lines spanning from Bauer Road to Lowell Road, south of Clark Road, and north of Stoll Road. A canoe launch is proposed on the far east side of the township, which would give community members a chance to float the stretch of the river located inside the Township boundaries. Also recommended, a four-foot paved shoulders along Clark Road. After numerous meetings, the resident’s feedback identified that a bike path along this road would be too intrusive to properties, so extending the shoulders to four feet would be appropriate. Although this would be an expensive and substantial project, it would be a big steppingstone in connecting the east and west sides of the township via non-motorized transportation. The team also identified 136 acres along Watertown Parkway which could potentially be used for recreational purposes to expand non-motorized biking and walking trails. The site could even undergo development to become a park to encompass all types of outdoor non-motorized activities.
Furthermore, the team established both short- and long-term implementation goals. Higher priority short-term goals for the Township include completing the sidewalk extension along Airport Road; revitalizing existing deteriorated infrastructure; and implementing new sidewalks along Wacousta Road; as well as the implementation of paved shoulders along Airport and Stoll Roads. Replacing the non-compliant paved shoulders along Wacousta Road and implementing new crosswalks and signage for each of these projects are also a high priority. Long-term goals with lower priority are due to requiring further research and partnerships with outside communities or groups. These lower priority goals include partnering with Consumers Energy on a walking path, developing the 136-acre vacant property into a community nature park, partnering with Michigan Water Trails to implement a new canoe launch and river trail, as well as partnering with surrounding communities to continue to improve connectivity options across Township lines. To implement these projects, necessary funding will need to be obtained. The team has identified potential funding resources from the local, state, and federal level to help fund the projects in this plan. Applying for the grants and partnering with the programs detailed in this report could reduce the financial burden imposed on the township. These proposed projects and infrastructure would enhance connectivity and improve non-motorized transportation options for Watertown Township residents.