The proposed Ishpeming roundabout construction project is going forward, regardless of how much local dissension there may be.
The Michigan Department of Transportation thoroughly explained why the 2016 project is the best route going forward earlier tonight at the Ishpeming Senior Center. They talked with concerned citizens about what positive effects it will have on the traffic flow at the intersections, where the money to build it would come from and why it had to be at this particular location.
“The funding was approved through the state of Michigan for this exact location. It’s not something that MDOT can take and change their mind and spend it two or three miles down the road, locally. It can’t be done. It’s pinpointed to reduce serious injury and fatal crashes at these two intersections, so that’s where it’s going to be spent,” explained Aaron Johnson, a Traffic & Safety Engineer at the Department of Transportation.
Some critics of the move pointed to the fact that they believe other sites, like Lake Shore Drive and US-41, are more dangerous and that reducing speeds would solve the problem. But, traffic statistics show otherwise.
“Changing the traffic signal to a different style, changing motorist speeds, or attempting to change motorist speeds doesn’t do anything to mitigate the type of crashes we’ve continually had here. Many of the crashes occur with a disregard for the traffic signal or a failure to yield from the side street. People disregard a traffic signal coming from Second Street or Deer Lake Road where the speed limit is 25 miles per hour,” Johnson noted.
MDOT and city officials point out that the intersection resides on state property and that the state has finalized their decision to go through with the renovation. If for some reason they didn’t, the funds would then go back into the state safety pool and would be dispersed to the next site on the list, which would most likely be somewhere downstate.
The only funds the city would have to provide would be for the paved road connecting second and third street on the south side of the railroad tracks. The city of Ishpeming is looking into safety grants to fund that caveat of the project and might only have to pay 10 percent of the bill.