Preparations were made this week to ensure safe travel for school traffic, as a detour will likely cause late arrivals for students and staff at the nearby Grand Haven High School when the work begins Monday.
The Michigan Shore Railroad informed the Ottawa County Road Commission of construction work at the railroad crossing on Ferris Street, just west of U.S. 31, which will require a road closure for about a week.
The detour to reach the high school will take traffic northbound on U.S. 31 to Hayes Street, then westbound on Hayes and southbound on Lakeshore Drive.
Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office deputies will be posted at the corners of Lakeshore Drive where it intersects with Lincoln Street, Ferris Street, Rosy Mound Road and Hayes Street. The Grand Haven Department of Public Safety will direct traffic at the corner of Robbins Road and Lakeshore Drive/Sheldon Road. Grand Haven Township Fire & Rescue will place a vehicle on the high school campus during the project to respond to potential emergencies at the school and west of Ferris Street.
School traffic on campus will maintain normal routes despite the expected delays.
“We’re going to leave their ingress and egress the same coming in and out of the school,” said Capt. Derek Christiansen of the Sheriff’s Office.
The road will be closed to traffic beginning at about 7 a.m. Monday. Traffic direction will occur from 6:30-7:30 a.m., when students, staff and buses arrive, and again after school from about 2:40-3:10 p.m.
“We are thrown curveballs all the time with traffic,” Christiansen said. “We just put our best foot forward and handle it.”
Grand Haven Area Public Schools Superintendent Andy Ingall described the situation as a “nightmare.” The district was not asked for input regarding the project, he said. Officials attempted to convince the railroad company to forgo the construction work, to no avail.
Michigan Shore Railroad could not be reached for comment.
“(Grand Haven Township and Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office officials) have been outstanding in their support and planning to both manage traffic and provide safety during a time of limited access and egress,” Ingall said. “We value and appreciate these local relationships and partnerships.”
Parents and students have been informed of the traffic detour, and they have been asked to avoid the Ferris Street/Lakeshore Drive intersection unless traveling to the high school. Bus delays are expected for the high school, White Pines Intermediate School and elementary runs, and students and staff are likewise expected to arrive late.