Cass County has removed 140 speed limit signs from its roadways.
All of the signs had set a 25 mile per hour limit in residential areas.
In some of those residential areas, the new speed limit is 55 miles per hour.
“There’s something wrong that they’re doing something this stupid,” said Reggie Lewkowski, a resident of Dewey Lake.
Lewkowski lives along Garrett Road in Silver Creek Township. Garrett winds along the western shore of Dewey Lake and commonly carries golf carts, bicycles, and pedestrians.
Dozens of nearby residents can’t get to the water without crossing Garrett Road: The same goes for patrons of the 40-units in the Shady Shores Resort. “You know, Michigan likes to support tourism, I explain to my people that they have a 25 mile per hour road they always have where they, you know, have to cross the road, and now I don’t know how I’m going to explain to them what the speed limit is going to be on this section of road,” said Shady Shores Manager Bruce Nevins.
The only reason the 25 mile per hour speed limit on Garrett Road was eliminated is that there was never a legal basis for imposing it in the first place. “They had never been studied, or set, it was, ‘I’d like a 25 mile an hour zone in front of my house, and at that time, they would do it back years ago,” said Silver Creek Township Supervisor Bill Saunders.
The loophole became so big that motorists routinely beat residential zone speeding citations. As a result, 140-residential speed limit signs across Cass County have been removed.
On Garrett Road there are no signs that advertise the new 55 mile an hour speed limit, and no guarantee that cars will actually start going that fast. Still, some find the development unnerving.
“There’s some people here that will do it because they know they can, and what are they going to do, they’re not going to stop them, they have nothing to stop them with at this point,” said Lewkowski.
“It’s just got everybody all in an uproar and I think until we get some established speed signs again, speed zones, enforceable, I think we’re going to have this same thing,” said Bill Saunders.
Michigan’s legislature has come up with new rules to set speed limits that are legally enforceable. One set of rules does little for the situation on Garrett Road, because it calls for a speed limit based on the number of “access points” a road has. “The state has regulations on access points per half mile, we don’t qualify for it because we’ve only got driveways on one side of the road, because the other side is the lake,” said Supervisor Saunders.
Saunders will now petition to have the Michigan State Police do a traffic study designed to set a new speed limit for Garrett Road and others. “There is a solution, but he’s one man that does the studies covering nine counties so it’s not going to be a fast moving process.”
Neighboring counties have already dealt with their residential speed limit dilemmas.
Officials in Cass County held out, hoping that the legislature would address the situation by making changes in the law.