An Open Letter To Kalamazoo: It Is Impossible To Get Places Through This City
Kalamazoo, you're a wonderful city and I have lived here most of my life. Born and raised and proud, etc... We've had good times, and great times. Downtown looks beautiful and continues to grow outward and upward. Fun is to be had. Beer is literally everywhere, and good beer at that. It's awesome, except for this one thing. Getting anywhere to the outskirts of the city in a timely fashion.
It's not just the construction, or flooding, or trains, or whatever traffic light isn't working properly on a random day, or normal rush hour times... that only exasperates an already difficult driving experience in Kalamazoo.
In particular, there is this situation I like to call "the turtle traffic triangle". Mix and match trying to get from Parchment to Portage to Oshtemo. Good luck! I often can get to Battle Creek from Kalamazoo faster than to any of those places driving through Kalamazoo.
From Parchment to/from Portage, you either swing out to Sprinkle Road (which is always a blast) and then have to cut back to Portage Road or Westnedge. Or you try to go through downtown on Westnedge and hope for the best. I have even resorted to driving northbound on U.S. 131 all the way to "D" Avenue to cut back to Parchment just to have peace of mind and minimal stops.
From Portage to/from Oshtemo is probably the easiest, depending on where you are at, because you can take I-94 to 9th Street. But if you want to get toward the Drake/West Main intersection, again, there isn't really an easy way without seemingly endless turns and slowdowns.
The Oshtemo to/from Parchment one also has no easy answers. You have to go around the city through Mosel and Douglas toward West Main or Stadium and get caught up in the WMU traffic often, depending on the destination.
It's like something is missing. And I know what that something is and Kalamazoo didn't, but should have had, the foresight for this decades ago when the interstate system was constructed here. A connecting penetrator, much like Battle Creek has, that would connect U.S. 131 to I-94 through downtown Kalamazoo with various exit points to some of these areas.
The logistics of building one of these today, I am sure, would be a nightmare if not impossible. But one can dream. I am no road design expert and am not sure what it would take. But I find it odd that a downtown area, looking for as many people to come to do all the fun things available to do there, is basically pushing everyone to drive around and away from the city as much as possible to get to from one suburban area to another. It would be nice to have one route that sweeps through Kalamazoo and let's you get from one end of the city to another, rather than dozens of roads that all seem to converge at the same place.
Oh well. It is what it is. Rant over.