[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Special Report: Danger Ahead

Updated: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 |
Special Report: Danger Ahead story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - In the past 13 months, there have been three deaths on the US-131 business loop north of Kalamazoo.

They have all happened on the curve which stretches less than a quarter-mile long.

Newschannel 3 began digging into what's being done to fix this dangerous area, and the Michigan Department of Transportation says a solution is in the works.

The first thing we found out is that many drivers are confused about what the speed limit is.

It's posted at 35 on Westnedge, but once you enter the freeway, there's no speed  limit signs until after a 90 degree turn.

We found drivers will take this curve from 25 all the way up to 70 miles per hour.

It's just a bend in the road; a simple curve navigated flawlessly by drivers thousands of times a day.

But crashes and fatal accident scenes are forcing action.

“Clearly there are some safety concerns with these curves,” said Nick Schirippa with M-DOT.

And there are many factors to consider: speed, signage, the degree and banking of the curves, and driver behavior.

“We can't drive for people,” Schirippa said.

These are not new problems with this section of road.

“Back in 1999 we originally put a speed limit of 35 miles per hour on the corner,” said Michigan State Police Sergeant Jim Campbell.

Sgt. Campbell investigates crashes for the Michigan State Police. He says political pressure forced the change in 1999.

“Semi truck rolled over and landed on top of a car and killed a lady in a car crash,” Sgt. Campbell said. “Based on that, M-DOT said we have to do something with the corner.”

Now, those black and white 35 mile per hour signs are gone.

It turns out they conflicted with the Michigan Traffic Control Manual.

“(The manual) said that we really shouldn't set an absolute speed on corners,” Campbell recalled. “And we also found that people don't obey black and white signs very well.”

And Campbell says there's been another big change here since 1999.

“At that time the whole business section through there was 55 all the way out to US-131,” he said.

Now just north of this curve, it's 70 in both directions and we found the average driver heading north out of Kalamazoo routinely takes the curve well above it's former 35 mile per hour speed limit.

And those heading south into the curve are frequently moving even faster.

“We're trying to find an optimal speed for those curves,” Schirippa said.

So we met up with some engineers from M-DOT, as well as Schirippa, to do just that, with a sliding dash mounted M-DOT tool.

First we took the curve heading south, then heading back north at the same speed.

After a dozen laps it was clear 35 is a good advisory speed. But both M-DOT and MSP already knew that.

State Police say they have determined a course of action.

First, a black and white 55 mile mile per hour sign will be posted right at Dunkley for northbound traffic, and then a black and yellow 40 mile per hour advisory sign will be posted heading into the northbound curve.

Finally, more chevrons will be installed in the hopes of grabbing drivers attention.

But again, all the signage in the world won't help if drivers chose to ignore it.
comments powered by Disqus
advertisement

What do you want to see?

If you have a story idea for the I-Team, you can contact us using the form below or by calling 269-388-4612.
Please re-enter the code shown in the image below.

Business News

Last Update on September 22, 2014 17:29 GMT

WALL STREET-PROTEST

NEW YORK (AP) -- Hundreds of activists protesting what they say is Wall Street's role in the climate crisis have gathered in lower Manhattan's financial district.

Scores of environmental activists dressed in blue are marching, carrying signs, chanting and sitting down on Broadway and elsewhere as workers and tourists look on.

Organizers say the protest is meant to highlight the role corporations play in stalling political action to combat global warming. It comes a day after more than 100,000 participated in the People's Climate March through Manhattan.

Participants in Monday's sit-down say they anticipate being arrested to push home their political point.

Urban farmer Ben Shapiro from Youngstown, Ohio, says he came to disrupt Wall Street and actively "confront the system."

HOME SALES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fewer Americans bought homes in August, as investors retreated from real estate and first-time buyers remained scarce.

The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes fell 1.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million. That snaps a four-month streak of gains. August sales are down from a July rate of 5.14 million, a figure that was revised slightly downward.

Much of the slowdown came from the exodus of investors, who had been buying properties in the aftermath of the housing bust and recession. Investors accounted for just 12 percent of August purchases, compared to 17 percent a year earlier.

Overall, the pace of home sales has dropped 5.3 percent year-over-year.

Rising prices through much of 2013 and weak income growth priced out many would-be buyers.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- The head of the European Central Bank is warning that the eurozone's already tepid economic recovery "is losing momentum."

Mario Draghi is telling members of the European parliament that recent economic indicators have given "no indication" of an upturn since August. The 18 countries that use the euro saw no economic growth at all in the second quarter.

Draghi says growth is being threatened by geopolitical disturbances and the failure of member governments to reform their economies and make them more efficient.

The ECB chief also defended the bank's new stimulus program, an offer of cheap, long-term loans to banks. Banks took only 82.6 billion euros at the first offering last week, less than many market analysts expected. Draghi says the takeup was within the bank's expectations.

APPLE-IPHONE SALES

NEW YORK (AP) -- Apple says it sold more than 10 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models, a record for a new model, in the three days after the phones went on sale.

A year ago, Apple Inc. said it had sold 9 million of the then-new iPhone 5C and 5S models.

The iPhone is available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the U.K. It will go on sale in 20 more countries on Sept. 26 and others by the end of the year.

CEO Tim Cook said Monday that demand for the phones has exceeded the company's expectations. Besides larger screens, the new phones offer faster performance and a wireless chip for making credit card payments. The phones start at $199 with a two-year service contact.

FED-PLOSSER

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Charles Plosser, a leading inflation "hawk" at the Federal Reserve, says he will retire in March.

Plosser, who has been president of the Fed's Philadelphia regional bank since August 2006, has been among the leaders of the officials known as hawks for their concerns that a continuation of low-interest rate policies could ignite inflation.

He has dissented at the past two Fed meetings, when the central bank voted to maintain its plan to keep a key short-term rate at a record low for a "considerable time."

Plosser, 66, would have given up his vote on the Fed's policymaking committee next year as part of the normal rotation of votes among the regional bank presidents. And the rules governing the Fed's 12 regional banks would have required his retirement in 2016.

GENERAL MOTORS-IGNITION SWITCH DEATHS

DETROIT (AP) -- The death toll from crashes involving General Motors small cars with faulty ignition switches has risen to at least 21.

Compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg says in an Internet posting he received 143 death claims as of Friday. He has determined that 21 are eligible for compensation so far. Last week 19 death claims were deemed eligible for payments.

Feinberg also has received 532 injury claims. Of those, 16 are eligible for compensation thus far. The rest are still being reviewed.

GM has admitted knowing about the ignition switch problem in small cars like the Chevrolet Cobalt for more than a decade. Yet it didn't begin recalling the cars until February.

The switches can unexpectedly shut off the engine and cause crashes.

GM hired Feinberg to compensate crash victims.

FRANCE-PILOTS STRIKE

PARIS (AP) -- Air France pilots are rejecting the company's offer to delay the expansion of its low-cost carrier, Transavia, after a seven-day strike that the airline says is costing it up to 20 million euros ($25 million) a day.

Pilots unions went on strike last week after Air France-KLM announced plans to save 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) over several years in part by transferring European operations to Transavia. The company, which is cutting costs to try to stay competitive with budget airlines, says talks are deadlocked. About half the airlines' flights have been cancelled since the strike began.

The main pilots' union, SNPL, says Monday's offer to delay the expansion until December is a smokescreen, accusing the airline of trying to outsource jobs to countries with lower taxes and cheaper labor.

CLOROX-VENEZUELA

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Clorox is shutting down its operations in Venezuela, citing restrictions by the government, supply disruptions and economic uncertainty.

Shares jumped 3 percent before the opening bell Monday.

The U.S. consumer products company said that for almost three years it has had to sell more than two-thirds of its products at prices frozen by the Venezuelan government. Over that same time span, there has been a sharp rise in inflation that resulted in significantly higher costs for Clorox. The company says it's selling products at a loss in the country.

The Clorox Co. met repeatedly met with government authorities and said it had expected significant price hikes. However, the increases that were approved were "nowhere near sufficient" and it said the company would be forced to continue operating at a loss.

advertisement