Although traffic congestion can be considered a by-product of a healthy local economy—that is, a “good problem” to have—it’s apparent that traffic volumes on M-53 in both the Imlay City and Almont areas are at concerning levels.

In Imlay City, the area around Borland Road and the Kroger plaza are prone to frequent crashes and there’s been a renewed call for a traffic light to be installed at Borland and Van Dyke since the fire department moved into their new hall last year. The Michigan Department of Transportation has plans to create a boulevard along a portion of M-53 but not until 2025 or 2026. In Almont, traffic backups within the village are a daily occurrence—on weekdays, it’s commuters and on the weekends, it’s campers.

At an M-53 Corridor Meeting held last week, MDOT officials admitted that their projections for traffic volumes along the corridor have fallen short of what we’re experiencing today—essentially demand is exceeding capacity.

Aside from the obvious safety concerns already mentioned, traffic congestion has other negative impacts including freight costs in the form of lost time and wasted fuel, plus environmental and public health impacts. Congestion and crashes also send drivers on detours to other roads including those not meant to handle heavy loads or high volumes. Then there’s the frustration that drivers experience who, in turn, are quick to take their aggressions out on other drivers.

Perhaps local and state leaders would be smart to consider some kind of public survey or other means of garnering drivers’ insights to at least identify some temporary solutions. We posted a link to Tom Wearing’s October 27 corridor meeting story on Facebook last week and several commenters offered up observations worth examining, like adjusting the timing of a traffic light south of Almont, greater presence by law enforcement or the possibility of creating a service drive in Imlay City.

What is apparent from those comments is that local residents hope something can be done sooner rather than later to make M-53 a safer route of travel.