Home Hotel service With a new hotel, more projects planned near Chick-fil-A, what will happen to US-31 traffic?

With a new hotel, more projects planned near Chick-fil-A, what will happen to US-31 traffic?


The opening of Chick-fil-A in Traverse City last week – a long-awaited launch that generated major traffic saves and 1-2 hour waits for food – is actually one of two projects planned for the US-31 property. A new hotel is set to be built just behind Chick-fil-A, and other proposed developments – including a drive-thru cafe next to Best Buy which will be discussed by Garfield Township planning commissioners tonight (Wednesday ) – could impact traffic in the surrounding corridor. So how will this traffic be managed? From rear service drives to movement restrictions, to increasing stacking capacity in businesses, The ticker examines some of the options considered by local and state leaders.

When Chick-fil-A submitted project plans for its new location at 2700 North US-31 between Williams KIA and Williams Honda dealerships last year, the application said a second phase of development would follow the restaurant’s construction. : a hotel to be built on the back of the property, with a driveway shared between the two businesses. Garfield Township planning director John Sych said conversations with hotel developers indicate “they are looking to finish this (project) as soon as possible”, with likely a 90-100 room hotel planned for the property (the hotel brand has yet to be announced). The project is a right of use, which means that it does not require special approval from the township. However, given the traffic impacts already seen at Chick-fil-A, Sych says the township will likely require a traffic impact study as part of staff’s review of the site plan.

One solution that could alleviate traffic at both Chick-fil-A and the hotel is a planned new drive-through service that would connect from the back of the businesses to the Lowe’s intersection light. This would allow drivers multiple ways to access the hotel and restaurant, including from a stoplight, instead of a single driveway off US-31. “It’s something the township is trying to facilitate, but we’re counting on the various owners for (the drive service) to be developed,” says Sych.

Lowe’s and Chick-fil-A have already accepted drive-through service. Sych would like to see it continue to the Grand Traverse Mall, but says it’s been harder to coordinate with landowners in that section of the route. Nevertheless, the development of the hotel would likely be the triggering event for building the drive from at least Chick-fil-A to Lowe’s. “Under the traffic conditions generated, (the hotel developers) would be looking for an alternate entrance and exit, so hopefully that will get the conversation started on the drive,” Sych said.

Other solutions could help alleviate traffic in the meantime. Sych says when Chick-fil-A’s Special Use Permit (SUP) was approved, the site map showed dual-lane drive-thru throughout the restaurant’s site — from point of order to food pickup. – can hold up to 52 cars during peak hours. When Sych drove to Chick-fil-A last week to observe traffic, he saw “one lane at the back of the property, then two lanes for the order, then one lane again for the pickup”. He adds that Chick-fil-A continues to train new employees and will hopefully be able to expand its capacity to handle more vehicles as new employees come on board. “Ideally, at full operating capacity, they would have the double tracks throughout,” he says.

Chick-fil-A is bound to fix the traffic problem no matter what: Garfield Township’s zoning code prohibits vehicles from dumping onto the roadway from drive-thru businesses. “The township can fine them, or revoke the SUP, or review the SUP to fix the problem, so there’s that provision,” Sych says. However, since the restaurant has only been open for a few days, township staff are monitoring the situation to see if the increase in traffic is mainly related to the grand opening or is turning into a persistent challenge. In the latter case, the township would try to work with Chick-fil-A and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), which regulates US-31 traffic, on solutions before more punitive measures are considered.

For example, Chick-fil-A contracted with the Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Office over opening weekend to direct traffic and temporarily banned left-turn movements to improve flow. Permanently restricting left turns could be a solution, if a drive-through service and/or extended dual carriageways served by more employees are not working. Simply allowing traffic backups on US-31 would not be an option, Sych says. “Chick-fil-A’s condition (seen last week) is not something that can be sustained or permanent,” he says. “We are working to resolve this. Developers must comply with zoning requirements. (Representatives for Chick-fil-A could not be reached for comment.)

In the meantime, further growth is targeted for the US-31 corridor in close proximity to Chick-fil-A. Township planning commissioners will tonight conduct a conceptual review – or informal first look at a project, with no action planned – on a proposed new drive-thru cafe at the former PNC Bank property at 2537 North US-31 between the Speedway and Mutual gas stations by Best Buy. The existing building would be demolished and a new 510 square foot cafe would be built, which would be serviced almost entirely by drive-thru. “There will be no internal access to the building for customers; however, there will be a pavilion with a picnic table on one side of the building for potential guest use,” wrote project representative John Schebaum. Concept drawings show a Seven Brew cafe at the site, which is a drive-thru chain with locations in the Midwest and South, but not yet in Michigan, according to the company’s website.

Sych says that even without considering the opening of Chick-fil-A, traffic could be problematic at the cafe. The company doesn’t have cross-access to Speedway or Best Buy, meaning the only point of entry would be off of US-31 via a shared driveway with Mutual. “Safe entry and exit from the site remains a concern of the township,” township staff wrote in a memo to the planning commissioners. Staff added that “it can be difficult to enforce a straight entry and exit aisle since a shared aisle has already been established.” Sych says just like Chick-fil-A, the cafe would go through an SUP process since it has a drive-thru, which means the planning commissioners have a say in whether the project is suitable for the site. and can set parameters on request if they allow it to proceed. “We have to see if it’s a viable project,” Sych says.