WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY & WINTER STORM WARNING

SATURDAY EVENING THROUGH EARLY MONDAY

The National Weather Service has issued a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY for Ottawa, Kent, Ionia, Muskegon, Newaygo, Mecosta, and Montcalm 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 near/south of I-94 is where the highest accumulations are expected... 8-12" possible. However, Eaton, Ottawa, and Kent could see anywhere from 4-7". 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: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, Van Buren,  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 2

Updated: Saturday, August 3, 2013 |
Special Report: Highway Headache: Part 2 story image
WEST MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - It's one of the busiest highways in the state, and one many of us travel every day.

The stretch of I-94 from Kalamazoo to Battle Creek is consistently filled with traffic tie-ups, bad accidents, and road closures.

But a plan to fix these frustrating issues may be gaining some traction, if political leaders don't slow it down.

Our I-Team investigation the past few months found there's very littel innovating and imagining these days when it comes to trying to fix a traffic problem spot.

Many of our leaders, it appears, simply feel defeated enough to not even begin to look at expanding our section of road that is in desperate need.

I-94 is the busiest two-lane highway in the entire state.

Incremental work has been done, and some work may be done in the next 15 years to fully expand I-94 from US-131 to Sprinkle Road, but that's it.

The dream of many for decades in West Michigan is to expand I-94 to three lanes in each direction from Kalamazoo to Jackson, but it would be costly--likely more than $1 billion, we found.

"There's so many players that would come into play," said M-DOT spokesman Nick Schirripa. "The stars would have to align to make that happen."

That didn't stop people in Detroit, though, from dreaming for the past decade.

They have a shovel ready project that would cost well more than $1 billion to fix I-94 through the heart of Detroit.

Once the funding is there, the project will begin.

The Detroit fix has been a 10-to-20 year process, so it appears leaders in our area may be 20 years behind to get it done.

There is an idea out there, however, that could speed up the process significantly.

The thought centers around creating a pay express lane, where you could choose to get away from all those trucks by paying a toll.

Senator Mike Nofs says he would sponsor legislation to get it done, if the federal government would sign off on it without Congressional approval.

The belief is that it's likely creating a toll lane might require an act of Congress, which could put the brakes on the idea for good.

Governor Rick Snyder has said in the past that he's not for tolls, but it appears in our one-on-one interview with him on Wednesday, he might be softening his tone.

He knows how difficult it is to raise revenues to get roads fixed, much less expanded.

The Governor and others say that most of I-94 won't be touched, though, until there's some new revenue coming in to fix what we have.

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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