I had the privilege to sit through the regular M-53 Corridor meeting Monday afternoon, held at the Imlay City fire hall. While the purpose of the meeting was to discuss all things M-53, much of the public comment time had to do with the three-decade old issue of installing a stoplight at the intersection of Borland and Cedar Street (M-53). Two MDOT officials from the Davison office attended the meeting and were the star of the show, if you will. Both men gave answers few liked hearing in regards to the stoplight issue.
More than 30 people, including some Imlay City residents, attended the nearly two hour meeting, to voice their opinions. MDOT Engineer Ryan Whiteherse ultimately said in the meeting, “putting in a stoplight is not the answer.” I disagree. Especially after hearing some of his reasoning. The engineer said a stoplight would cause more harm than good and would increase the number of accidents. Yet, he had no supporting documents to prove that or any kind of statistics at Monday’s meeting.
MDOT, according to him, is looking at “alternative methods” of addressing speeding traffic between Newark Road and Capac Road (old M-21). M-53 in Imlay City has just two stoplights. One at the intersection of Newark and Van Dyke and the other at the corner of Capac Road and Van Dyke.
For years, there has been a plea from local officials for an additional light along M-53, right across from the fairgrounds. It makes a lot of sense and has been studied and re-studied. Multiple meetings have been held and still – MDOT has not agreed, up to this point. During special events at the fairgrounds, those brave enough to dart across the busy highway take their life in their own hands when trying to cross from one side or the other, to get to fast food businesses or other venues.
Unfortunately, there have been serious accidents at the intersection of Borland and Van Dyke, even some that have claimed lives of loved ones. Local police say there have been those who come over the hill at the expressway and then try to time the light at Newark to allow them to speed through town with nothing stopping them short of a red light at M-53 and M-21, or an occasional police officer checking radar. That intersection, which is also where fire trucks come out as they respond to emergency calls, needs to have a stoplight, plain and simple. Unfortunately, fatal accidents and multiple crashes have sparked the issue time and again. However, MDOT says the number of crashes and fatalities does not warrant the installation of a light.
At a “private” meeting held Tuesday, MDOT and Imlay City officials were to meet to discuss alternatives, besides a light. As a representative of Tri-City Times and in the vein of transparency, I requested to be allowed to the meeting and was told both by MDOT and the City, “no.”
Interesting. So much for public transparency. Instead, officials will meet in secret, behind closed doors and possible pitch the idea of a multi-million dollar boulevard as opposed to a stoplight that might cost up to $500,000 according to Whiteherese. So much for getting the most bang for your buck as a taxpayer. MDOT needs to step up to the plate and make the light happen.
Certainly, the benefits or a new stoplight far out-weigh the negatives. Talk to the families who have lost loved ones to crashes at the dangerous intersection. Talk to those involved in multiple accidents at the intersection. See what they have to say. The supposed nine-step warrant for a light should be thrown out the window. The time has come MDOT.
How many more lives have to be changed? How many more people have to lose their life, or that of a loved one? How many more have to fear for their life as they travel the M-53 Autobon? Step up and do the right thing MDOT.