[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Special Report: Highway Headache: Part 1

Updated: Saturday, August 3, 2013 |
Special Report: Highway Headache: Part 1 story image
WEST MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The stretch of I-94 from Kalamazoo to Battle Creek is one of the busiest stretches of road in the entire state.  There are often big  traffic tie-ups, bad accidents and road shutdowns. It's the one road we all hate to be on.  In fact some have told us, they even fear driving on it.

So the I-Team started asking questions about future expansion of the road. For four months we investigated whether our leaders have a plan of action for I-94 expansion. But as we found in this, the politics of today are stopping the progress of tomorrow.

Part of the danger with this road is congestion. The numbers we found are astonishing. The freeway at it's busiest near Kalamazoo carries close to 10,000 trucks per day. That's close to double the normal daily truck traffic on any road in Grand Rapids and is very close to the amount of truck traffic coming out of Detroit. Up to 90,000 total vehicles per day between Kalamazoo and Battle creek make I-94 the busiest four-lane highway in the state of Michigan.

This winter there were many bad accidents causing closures and often chaos for commuters.

The congested, slimmed-down road is also causing problems for our leaders to pitch our area to companies looking to locate in West Michigan.

"We know companies have told us that that issue not being six lanes across the state is absolutely in their decision stream," Southwest Michigan First CEO Ron Kitchens said.

Some work's already been done on I-94.  The interchanges at Westnedge Avenue and at U.S. 131 are complete but so much work is left to be done.

So is there any plan to expand considering the new bridge to Canada is planned to be built? There's been talk for 20 years and there's even an I-94 committee within M-DOT but we found that committee is not looking at expansion. The focus instead is patching problems to get the most out of what's available.

Well the I-Team found the folks in Detroit aren't just thinking of patching. There are plans for a major reconstruction of I-94 through Detroit, a $1.6 billion dollar shovel-ready project. Folks on our side of the state aren't anywhere close to being shovel-ready for our bottleneck.  We found there's a reason for it. Instead of innovating and imagining, many just feel defeated before they can ever get started.

"Your chances of getting something through the federal government is tough," Sen. Mike Nofs (R) Battle Creek. I think that's where the defeatist attitude is coming from personally."

"Things are divisive so we're in a culture that doesn't lend itself to the kind of collaboration it would take," M-DOT spokesman Nick Schirripa said.

Governor Rick Snyder is trying to get some more road funding now. He's asking lawmakers to approve more than $1 billion just to fix our roads, not expand them. That extra revenue request isn't going over real well with lawmakers in both parties because nobody wants to raise taxes.

"That's where you should talk to your legislator about coming forward with a plan being involved in this process," Governor Snyder told us.

Governor Snyder's take on I-94 expansion: "If you stop and look at it without these resources, there's virtually no way there would be any consideration for that"

For a list of billion dollar projects around the country, click here.

For average daily traffic maps for Michigan, click here.
comments powered by Disqus

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 December 01, 2015 18:05 GMT


WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. construction spending jumped in October, fueled by solid gains in home building and the largest increase in federal construction in nine years.

The Commerce Department says construction spending rose 1 percent in October from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of more than $1.1 trillion. That's the highest level since December 2007 when the Great Recession began.

The construction of single-family homes and apartments climbed 1 percent, also reaching their highest level since December 2007. Manufacturers boosted their construction spending by 3 percent. And federal government building soared 19.2 percent, the biggest increase since October 2006.

More Americans are buying new homes or renting apartments, driving greater residential development. Construction spending has increased 13 percent in the past 12 months.


DETROIT (AP) -- November used to be a slow month for U.S. car sales. Not anymore.

Black Friday promotions -- some of which began well before Thanksgiving -- were expected to push last month's sales to near-record levels. Car buying site Edmunds.com predicted sales of new cars and trucks will hit 1.33 million, eclipsing the previous November record set in 2001.

General Motors' sales rose 1.5 percent over last November, while Toyota and Fiat Chrysler's each saw 3 percent sales gains. Nissan's sales rose 4 percent. Ford's sales were flat, with a 10-percent increase in F-Series pickup sales unable to overcome falling car sales.

Honda's sales fell 5 percent, hurt by a big decline in CR-V SUV sales. But the biggest sales declines were at Volkswagen. VW's U.S. sales plummeted 25 percent, hurt by the company's admission that its diesel vehicles cheated on emissions tests.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Puerto Rico's governor is issuing a "distress call" to Congress to help his heavily indebted government while signaling he will reroute money to make a bond payment by the end of the day Tuesday.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla asked Congress to create a legal framework that would give the territory the authority to restructure its liabilities.

He said after the hearing that his administration will "do our best" to make a $355 million bond payment that is due Tuesday and is key to the U.S. territory's economic future. He said he is attempting to divert money from other debt payments to pay what is due.

Failure to make the bond payment could complicate the island's efforts to reach restructuring deals on its $72 billion of public debt.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- A bipartisan investigation by U.S. senators finds that the makers of a breakthrough drug for hepatitis C infection put profits before patients in pricing the $1,000-per-pill cure.

The report released Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee concludes that California-based Gilead Sciences was focused on maximizing revenue even as its own analysis showed a lower price would allow more patients to be treated for the liver-wasting disease.

Gilead's first breakthrough pill was called Sovaldi. The company now has a more expensive next-generation pill called Harvoni.

Sens. Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, and Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, said their 18-month investigation found that the high price tag significantly limited patient access and heaped huge costs on federal and state health care programs.


UnitedHealth CEO terms ACA exchange growth a `bad decision'

UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley says the nation's biggest health insurer made a bad decision when it dove deeper into the Affordable Care Act's public insurance exchanges this year.

Hemsley says the insurer should have waited and learned more about the still-new business before jumping into two dozen state-based exchanges for 2015. That move ultimately generated losses steep enough to force the company to chop its earnings forecast. UnitedHealth Group Inc. sold coverage on just four exchanges in 2014.

The Minnetonka, Minnesota, company will decide next year whether to sell coverage for 2017 on the exchanges, a key element in the ACA's push to cover millions of uninsured people.

But Hemsley also told investors Tuesday that any decision to pull back from that market will not be permanent.