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Public input needed to make a dangerous road more pedestrian friendly

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- 

Berrien County officials are working to make a 3.3 mile stretch of Napier Avenue between the St. Joseph River and the interstate safer for pedestrians. 

"There's very few sidewalks, only a few crosswalks and no bicycle lanes," said Associate Planner for the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission Ryan Fellows. "We can tell from where people have been walking that the path is kind of beaten into the dirt along the side of the road."

The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission has been working on a plan for Napier Avenue since fall of 2017. 

"There's a definite demand, there's a definite need for having sidewalks or bike lanes because I see cyclists and walkers all the time when I'm driving along the corridor. And seeing those indentations in the dirt along the side of the road is just kind of extra proof on top of that," said Fellows. 

Pedestrians have been hit when walking along this stretch of road. One man was killed earlier this year. 


"It is a tragic reminder of the importance of this project," said Fellows. 

The planning commission held a public input meeting in March. Now it is asking the public to take a survey. Users can mark what problem areas are, priorities they have or changes they would like to see for the corridor. 

The most common request, Fellows says, is for more sidewalks. 

"This area in particular has households that don't even have one car and so there's a definite need to address that lack of sidewalk and that lack of bicycle infrastructure because some people don't have those options," he said. 

The survey can be found online here or a paper version can be picked up at the following locations:

Southwest Michigan Regional Planning Commission

376 W Main St

Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Benton Charter Township Hall

1725 Territorial Road

Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Saint Joseph Charter Township Hall

3000 Washington Ave.PO Box 146

St. Joseph, MI 49085


The deadline for the survey is April 13. Completed surveys should be mailed or dropped off to one of the above locations. 

The planning commission will host a public open house meeting on May 21 from 4 - 7 p.m. at Napier Parkview Baptist Church. Fellows says the planning commission will present the public with three plans for Napier Avenue at that meeting. 

A final plan is set to be completed around July. 

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