WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY & WINTER STORM WARNING

SATURDAY EVENING THROUGH EARLY MONDAY

The National Weather Service has issued a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY for all of West Michigan except counties along the Michigan-Indiana border, effective from 7 pm Saturday until 6 am Monday. A strong storm will be crossing the Ohio Valley Sunday, bringing snow to West Michigan, with some areas perhaps seeing as much as 10-12" of accumulation. Snowfall will be heaviest south as opposed to north, so along/south of I-94 is where the highest accumulations are expected... 6-10" possible. However, Allegan, Barry, Eaton, Ottawa, and Kent could see anywhere from 4-6". Additionally, gusty winds will be blowing the snow quite a bit, causing drifting on roads along with poor visibility. Travel is discouraged from late Saturday night through Sunday night.

The National Weather Service has issued a WINTER STORM WARNING for the following counties in West Michigan, effective from 7 pm Saturday until 4 am Monday: Berrien, Cass, St.Joseph, Branch, and Hillsdale. A strong winter storm moving into/across the Ohio Valley will bring periods of heavy snow to the Warning area, beginning late tonight and extending through at least Sunday evening. Forecast models indicate between 8 and 12" of accumulation are possible. Additionally, strong winds will cause blowing and drifting snow. Driving conditions will be hazardous Sunday. Travel is not encouraged.

Stay with Newschannel 3 and wwmt.com for the latest updates.

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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.
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Business News

Last Update on January 30, 2015 18:13 GMT

ECONOMY-GDP

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. economy slowed in the final three months of 2014 as a big burst in consumer spending was offset by weakness in other areas.

The Commerce Department says the overall economy grew at a 2.6 percent rate in the October-December period, down from sizzling gains of 4.6 percent in the second quarter and 5 percent in the third quarter.

Consumers did their part in the fourth quarter, pushing up spending by fastest rate in nearly nine years. But businesses investment, trade and government spending weakened.

For the year, the economy grew at a moderate rate of 2.4 percent. But economists believe 2015 could be a breakout year for growth, with consumer spending boosted by strong employment gains and falling gas prices. Many expect growth above 3 percent this year.

EMPLOYMENT COST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Wages and benefits rose at the fastest pace in six years last year, a sign strong job gains could be forcing companies to pay a bit more for workers.

The Labor Department says the employment cost index, which measures pay and benefits, rose 2.2 percent in 2014, up from 2 percent the previous year. That's the biggest gain since 2008. It's also ahead of inflation, which rose 1.3 percent.

Yet the increase is still sluggish by historical standards. In a healthy economy, the index usually rises at about a 3.5 percent pace.

The Federal Reserve is closing watching wages as it considers when to raise the short-term interest rate it controls. Fed Chair Janet Yellen considers rising wages a key sign that the job market is nearing full health.

US-CONSUMER-SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumers are more confident than they've been since January 2004.

The University of Michigan says that its index of consumer sentiment rose to 98.1 in January from 93.6 last month.

Consumers say the prospects for the U.S. economy are the strongest in a decade, and half of consumers expect the expansion to keep going another five years.

The Michigan survey was the latest evidence that strong job growth and tumbling oil prices have lifted consumers' spirits. The Conference Board on Tuesday reported that its consumer confidence index climbed to the highest level since August 2007. And the Commerce Department reported Friday that consumer spending rose from October through December at the fastest pace in nearly nine years.

AMERICAN AIRLINES-PILOTS

DALLAS (AP) -- Pilots at American Airlines and US Airways have approved a single labor contract. That's a step toward combining workforces at the two carriers, which merged in December 2013.

The multiyear deal gives pilots a 23 percent pay raise retroactive to Dec. 2.

The pilots' union said Friday that the contract was approved 66 percent to 34 percent, with 95 percent of eligible pilots casting a vote.

TOYOTA-FATAL CRASH

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A jury of six men and six women is continuing deliberations in a case alleging a 1996 Toyota Camry had a design defect that caused a fatal crash.

Jurors received the case late Wednesday afternoon and deliberated all day Thursday without reaching a verdict. They returned to a federal courthouse in Minneapolis on Friday to keep working.

The jurors must decide whether Toyota's design of the 1996 Camry had a defect that was unreasonably dangerous. If they find there was a defect, they must decide if it directly caused injuries to those hurt or killed when Koua Fong Lee crashed into another car in 2006.

Lee spent 2 1/2 years in prison before being released after reports suggested some Toyota cars had sudden acceleration problems.

GERMANY-BMW-SECURITY FLAW

BERLIN (AP) -- German automaker BMW says it has fixed a security flaw that made 2.2 million of its vehicles vulnerable to break-ins.

The company says the problem affected BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce models equipped with its ConnectedDrive technology, which allows drivers to access certain car functions with a smartphone.

German automobile club ADAC, which discovered the flaw last summer, says hackers could have used a fake cellphone base station to intercept network traffic from the car and lower the windows or open the doors. There are no reports such a break-in ever took place.

BMW spokeswoman Silke Brigl said Friday that hackers wouldn't have been able to start or stop the engine.

Brigl said the problem has been fixed with an automatic update and customers don't need to take any action.

POM JUICE-RULING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal appeals court says many advertising claims for POM Wonderful juice were deceptive in asserting that it curbs the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction and is clinically proven to work.

In a 3-0 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upholds the conclusion that many of POM's ads made misleading or false claims. The conclusion was reached by the Federal Trade Commission.

The ads appeared in national publications, on Internet sites, bus stops, billboards, newsletters and on tags attached to the products.

POM Wonderful LLC produces a number of pomegranate-based products.

RUSSIA-FINANCES

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia deputy sports minister Yuri Nagornykh says his country's economic crisis is forcing athletes to scale back their training plans for next year's Olympics in Brazil.

Training camps abroad can be crucial in acclimatizing athletes for Rio de Janeiro's tropical conditions, but they are rapidly becoming unaffordable after the ruble lost almost half of its value against the U.S. dollar in the last 12 months.

Nagornykh tells Russian agency R-Sport that, with the ruble's value low and the Sports Ministry's budget facing cuts, athletes should stay in Russia rather than train abroad "in order to spend less of the currency reserves."

Officials will select priority sports and athletes for scarce funding, Nagornykh said.

The measures affect athletes for the Rio Olympics, and the 2018 Winter Olympics, he added.

OHIO STATE-ROYALTIES

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The Ohio State University is cashing in after the Buckeyes' national championship victory.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the university expects a $3 million increase this year in royalties from licensed merchandise sales as fans continue to buy national championship gear and keepsakes.

Retailers say the team's special story has helped boost sales. The Buckeyes, who defied naysayers in their 42-20 victory over the University of Oregon, earned the final playoff spot after losing two starting quarterbacks to injuries.

Licensing officials also attribute increased sales to the fact Ohio State hadn't won a championship since 2002.

More than half of each dollar that comes into the school's licensing office goes to academic affairs. The athletics department, alumni association and student life program also receive portions of the revenue.

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