Manistique Redefines "ROAD CLOSED"

What Could it Mean to You?

NOTE: Photographs follow this narrative.

To most travellers, unfamiliar with local interpretations given to otherwise "plain English","ROAD CLOSED" on a municipal DPW (department of public works) barricade means the road is closed to vehicular traffic due to unsafe road conditions. The sign's message and the placement of the barricade have the implied, if not explicit, force of law and are not to be considered lightly, as one might consider a similar sign or obstruction placed by an individual.

In Manistique, at the city council meeting of 08/07/00 and the previous council meeting, the supervisor of Manistique's DPW (also a Schoolcraft County commissioner), the city manager, the mayor and city council persons took the position that DPW barricades blocking all access roads to a local motel did not effect the business sufficiently to warrant compensation. Their vocal opinion was stated clearly during both Council meetings. No member of Manistique city government and administration found fault with anything, other than details of the motel owner's presentation of grievance. No dissenting official opinion was voiced.

Photographs show all access roads blocked, 1 block away from the road repair site. Barricades and signs "state" clearly, to the law abiding traveller, "proceed no further on this section of road". Various members of council, and administration, acknowledged the presence of the barricades and signs but denied the significance of those public safety tools to a law abiding citizen, and the impact on the motel's business. They stated, publicly, it was reasonable to expect a traveller to ignore the barricades and signs and drive around them to gain access to the motel, therefore no motel business, of consequence, was lost due to the DPW barricades.

At no time did any member of Manistique's city council and administration offer any suggestion of credentials or credible research data regarding the operation of a motel and the potential impact of road repairs and barricades that deny "reasonable" access to such a business. It was known by all, that Manistique's insurance provider denied the motel owner's claim of lost revenue prior to both Council meetings. Personal whim and the insurance company's decision was the prevalent basis of all expressed council member contention that if the barricades could be driven around, the motel owner had no basis for his claim.

The author of this article wondered, during both Council meetings, if the government and administration of the City of Manistique was intellectually, morally and politically bankrupt. That so many, including the city attorney, could perceive nothing wrong or illegal is difficult to accept. Look at the photographs, the same viewed by Manistique city council and the city manager, consider the circumstances, and draw your own conclusions.

Then again, "ROAD CLOSED" in Manistique may mean: "Drive around this barricade and sign and proceed along this road." and the motel owner is adrift in a subjective morass of personal opinion I have, mistakenly, ascribed to others.

One block south of the hole, the south end of Cedar St. is barricaded. Access from US2

One block north of the hole, Cedar St. access is barricaded. (distant barricades) Access from N. Cedar St.

One block east of the hole, Arbutus St. access is barricaded. E Arbutus access

One block west of hole, Arbutus St. access is barricaded. (distant barricades) South end Arbutus


With the start of the River St. renovation project last month, it appeared that a lesson was learned, as indicated by the addition of informational signs to road barricades. They stated clearly that River Street was closed to through traffic and that local businesses were open and accessable.

Approximate junction of south River St., Cedar and Main Streets, 11/28/00
River and Main Streets intersection

On my way out of town Monday morning, 11/27/00, I noticed that the north access to and exit from River Street, at M-94, was blocked by two barricades with "Road Closed" signs with no other information. Another local resident, driving the vehicle I was riding in, obeyed the signs and drove to Cedar Street, and then south on Cedar to the junction pictured above; a downtown junction of local streets.

No road barrier information at the junction of M-94 and north River St., but information overload at the downtown local streets junction, at south River St.

All access to north River St. from M-94 was barricaded and posted with "Road Closed" signs at 10am and 6:40pm, 11/27/00 and ? Is it likely that business was lost?

M-94 and River Street

Maybe nothing has changed and, in late November, DPW supervision, Manistique city administration, and Manistique City Council still believe that "Road Closed" means "Road Open", and both have no effect on local business profits and losses.

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