The High Price of Misplaced Priorities in Ann Arbor

A 16-year-old boy was hit and killed this morning crossing the street in front of Ann Arbor Huron High School–the result of misplaced priorities.

Fuller Road near Ann Arbor Huron High School

Fuller Road near Ann Arbor Huron High School

He was crossing Fuller Road near Huron Parkway, shortly after 7 AM this morning. Both of these roads are notoriously busy and notoriously dangerous to cross–especially in the low-light Fall mornings when both vehicle and pedestrian traffic are high.

I’m saddened by this tragic loss. But I’m also angry. I’m angry because it was predictable–in fact, predicted. I’m angry because it was avoidable. I’m angry because, here in Ann Arbor, supposedly the most educated city in the country, we still suffer from misplaced priorities.

For months–years, actually–many parents, teachers, and others have been asking the city and the school to address this obvious safety issue. During the past couple of years, dropping my son off in the morning, I have been concerned that the situation is dangerous to the point that I have raised the issue myself on several occasions.

I am angry that our city finds millions of dollars for public art on bridges and elsewhere (especially where they can be viewed by people heading to and from the Big House on football weekends), but it takes years and years to study if and how to spend money to create safe walking routes to and from our schools.

We are penny-wise and dollar-foolish.

We cut out most public school buses to save money. Never mind that doing so significantly increases both vehicle and pedestrian traffic in and out of the schools every day. That’s somebody else’s dime. Never mind that it adds hundreds of man-hours of individual parental driving time every school day. That, too, is somebody else’s dime. And never mind that it increases the risk of vehicle/pedestrian accidents. We’ll study that problem and deal with that issue… later. Besides, bridges and traffic signals cost money, and who would vote for that?

We have misplaced priorities.

And now, a 16-year-old boy is dead.

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