Last week’s news that the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)is considering installing a boulevard on a portion of M-53 in Imlay City was surprising but encouraging. Traffic volumes and a lack of controls makes it difficult and sometime dangerous to access businesses along the state highway.
Undoubtedly there will be lots of opinions regarding the efficacy of such a tool and it’s possible city leaders and state officials will settle on a different option or modified plan between now and 2026. That’s the year MDOT selected to do the work.
What’s encouraging is that state transportation officials are coming to the city with a possible solution. For years, both city officials and ordinary citizens have lobbied for assistance from the state to keep drivers more safe. The general consensus among locals has been that adding a traffic light at Borland Road would improve things but MDOT has resisted that concept so far, saying traffic flow is insufficient for a light.
Essentially, the proposed boulevard would prevent drivers from being able to make left turns into and out of businesses within a zone that roughly stretches between Newark and Borland roads.
Imlay City Police Chief Scott Pike reports that MDOT’s road diet installation between Third and Cedar streets—transforming four lanes to three with a dedicated center-turn lane—appears to have helped reduce crashes in that area of the busy roadway.
From all appearances that constant stream of traffic on M-53 will only likely grow. According to MDOT’s 2019 traffic count data, the proposed boulevard would be placed in an area that sees an average of 22,000-plus vehicles per day.
Although traffic volumes everywhere were down for a period of time this spring due to the stay at home order, it seems the number of vehicles more than recovered this summer as evidenced by the constant stream of motorhomes, boats and other recreation vehicles headed north at week’s end and south again as the weekend comes to a close.
It’s good to know that state road officials are offering a potential solution to what has been a dangerous situation. We hope that they and city officials can finalize a plan that makes M-53 safer for everyone.