For years, Hillsdale drivers have experienced the strange intersections crisscrossing the City of Hillsdale.
Carleton Road and Broad Street, Broad Street and North Street, Bacon Street and Carlton Road are just a few of these intersecting roads.
In 2006, the Michigan Department of Transportation completed a construction project on M-99. Their goal was to quickly direct traffic through small towns like Hillsdale by increasing speed limits and maximizing the amount of lanes per street. This move, however, diverts traffic away from Hillsdale businesses — the reason why the roads were built in the first place.
“As far as Bacon is concerned, it became a major cross because of the location of Stock’s Mill,” City Zoning Director Alan Beeker said. “Stock’s Mill has always been the big business downtown because Stock had control of the water source.”
Though Beeker has sketches of potential new plans for downtown, most funding for roads goes toward fixing potholes rather than reconstructing intersections. The sketches, however, include increased green space and parking for the downtown area as well as more, safer crosswalks. For this space, MDOT would have to change its focus from increasing lanes to a “road diet,” which, according to Beeker, would include reducing the four downtown lanes to one northbound and one southbound lane.
Beeker said he does not yet have a date for the groundbreaking or completion of these projects.
According to volunteers at the Mitchell Resource Center Debra Reister and Lori Zeiler, North, South, West, Short, and Broad Streets initially bound the developing village of Hillsdale. Later roads, such as Bacon Road, Broad Street, and Carlton Road, were built in the 1830s and 1840s as more settlers and their businesses moved to Hillsdale. These roads were built for the traffic patterns at the time. M-99, then called Railroad Street, connected Hillsdale to Allen and Jonesville Townships. Bacon Road connected downtown Hillsdale and Stock’s Mill.
These roads and their intersections were built widely to fit horses and wagons — not cars.