MDOT Will Install New Sign in Response to ELi Reader Suggestion

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Thursday, October 10, 2019, 7:05 am
Alice Dreger

(Photos by Raymond Holt)

An ELi reader used our “Ask ELi to Investigate” public service to ask why there are “minimal markings for the lane reductions” on Grand River Avenue westbound in front of Peoples Church and eastbound where Grand River Avenue crosses the south end of Coolidge Road.

She wrote, “Invariably, motorists in the lane that ends think they have equal rights to the remaining single lane. I’m sure there are a few drivers caught unawares, but most of the time it’s a showdown on who is willing to let the other person merge. I think there could be better markings, warnings, etc., instead of the single sign in both directions.”

With the help of Scott House, East Lansing’s Director of Public Works, we got in touch with Tom Fisher of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). Fisher is MDOT’s Operations Engineering manager for the Lansing area.

Fisher let us know he’d get on it, and a few days later, we heard from him: “My staff and I looked into the issues that you brought up, and here are our findings.”

Regarding the westbound lanes near Peoples Church (above), Fisher says, “I agree that there is a fair amount of lane-jockeying in this area. Our safety review showed that there were 13 crashes over a 3-year period, with 3 side-swipe crashes; only one crash was attributed to the lane merge.”

He explains, “The crash data indicates that there isn’t a big safety concern here, but after reviewing the location, we agree that we can install one additional sign for westbound. The new sign should be installed near the existing Evergreen Avenue intersection, so we will likely wait until the construction is done there before we install the new sign.”

Regarding the eastbound lanes near Coolidge Road, Glenmoor Road, and Touraine Avenue, Fisher says, “Our safety review showed that there were 22 crashes over a 3-year period, with 4 side-swipe crashes; only one crash was attributed to the lane merge, so there doesn’t seem to be a safety concern here.”

He notes, “There are actually two signs for eastbound traffic (LANE ENDS MERGE RIGHT and a ‘Coke bottle’ sign), but the sign spacing is tight due to the proximity of the Coolidge Road intersection. We looked at moving the first sign farther west, but then it would potentially cause problems at the Coolidge intersection, and we determined that it would be best to leave the sign where it is.”

Signs can only do so much.

In Fisher’s words, “I’m not convinced that additional signing will help in either location – I think drivers just need to be more courteous/patient and take turns merging, but I’m not sure what I can do to help with that.”

But, thanks to our reader reaching out to us and MDOT responding, MDOT “will install a new sign for westbound Grand River near The Peoples Church in the near future, and hopefully that will help.”

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