Left turn signals planned for Brye and 10, PM and 10

March 26, 2013
A driver turns left onto U.S. 10 at Brye Road, going through the red light earlier today.

A driver turns left onto U.S. 10 at Brye Road, going through the red light earlier today.

The Michigan Department of Transportation plans to place left turn signals at the U.S. 10-31 intersections of Brye Road and Pere Marquette Highway. It also plans to upgrade the traffic signals at Meyers and Nelson roads, which will allow for the signals along the entire corridor to be timed better.

Dan Lund, traffic and safety engineer with MDOT, attended a traffic safety meeting Tuesday morning at the Mason County Sheriff’s Department. During the meeting, Lund was asked by Sheriff Kim Cole, if MDOT was going to address the intersections along the U.S. 10 corridor.

Earlier this year, MDOT released a transparency report listing the intersections at Brye and U.S. 10 and PM and U.S. 10 as being in the top 5 percent of the most dangerous intersections in the state, based on the number of injury crashes. The report stated MDOT was studying the intersections to determine the best way to make them safer. One option, for the Brye intersection, was to build a round-a-bout or traffic circle. Another option, for both intersections, was to add left turn signals on U.S. 10.

Lund said engineers have concluded the left turn signals were the best option. He said an official memo stating the changes has not yet come out, but the decision has been made.

Funding will determine the timeline but the work is expected to take place within the next couple of years. Lund said the current signal operating system at Brye will need to be updated, which will cost more. Engineers are looking into swapping that system with another one, so the work can be expedited. The light at PM already has an upgraded system, which means work won’t take as long.

In addition, he said the goal is for all the lights along U.S. 10 in MasonCounty to be connected with a radio system that will allow them to be timed out better.

“I think this is great news,” Sheriff Kim Cole said. “Our major injury crashes on U.S. 10 occur as a result of head-on left turn accidents. What we often get is a driver who finds him- or herself under the light as it turns red. They don’t know what to do so they panic and make the left turn. In the meantime, another car is coming east or west and is accelerating to beat the red the light. We hope this will prevent many of those crashes.”

One of Cole’s campaign promises was to increase patrols along U.S. 10. He said he is currently coming up with a plan with Michigan State Police for both agencies to have more of a presence there, especially between Brye Road and PM Highway.

“If it takes overtime hours to do this, we are going to make this a safer highway,” Cole said. “It’s not about enforcement but rather about educating drivers.”

During a random observation Monday, watching 20 green to red switches at Brye and U.S. 10, this reporter witnessed eight vehicles go through either a yellow or red light. At Stiles and U.S. 10, in 10 switches, six vehicles went through the yellow or red light, many of them semi-trucks.

Lund said he and Mason County Road Commission Manager Gary Dittmer have been discussing reducing the speed limit on parts of U.S. 10. He said it is likely the speed limit between Pere Marquette Highway and Meyers Road will be reduced to 50 mph.

The next traffic safety meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 25, 10 a.m. at Ludington Police Department.

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