ROYAL OAK, Mich. - Many residents on a Royal Oak block are angry and fearful after the city commission cleared the way for semi-trucks to temporarily use their residential street.
While only a few are directly affected, others are worried it could lead to 18-wheelers turning their quiet street into an industrial thoroughfare.
"You don't move to a residential street to have trucks go by every day," says Bethany Burbridge, who has a 5-year-old son.
For the moment, trucks entering Royal Oak Recycling are not allowed on Knowles Street. But those rules will soon change. The company says trucks are backing up at their Hudson Street entrance and have received permission to allow incoming semi-trucks to bypass the entrance when crowded, turn down Knowles Street and go around the block to their other entrance on East Harrison Street.
It takes the big rigs right by Alex Schneider's home, breaking what he calls a long-standing promise in the city Master Plan to keep this area free of industrial traffic.
"The city lied to the neighborhood. (We'll see) probably 100 trucks a day," Schneider said.
The business has done without this detour for decades. But as customers increase, there are more backups, and claim they need the change to reduce congestion to the west.
"This is reducing truck traffic for neighbors, and it's safer too, because trucks will not be stacked up on Hudson with the train tracks coming down," claims Joe Munem, Royal Oak Recycling spokesman.
But Burbridge sees this as a Pandora's Box. She believes a six-month test of new rules makes no sense, because some of the company's customers are already ignoring the old ones. "They go by pretty fast. I'm scared they'll hit my power lines which hang low, scared they'll hit my son, and they're very loud. They are not what you want to hear lying in bed at 7 a.m."
She and other neighbors would like to see the city boost traffic enforcement and reconsider the change. Then they could recycle their protest signs.
But Schneider isn't optimistic because until last December, Royal Oak's mayor worked at the recycling company.
However, even if Mayor Jim Ellison recused himself from the vote, it still would have passed by a comfortable margin.
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