State follows up with resident’s I-696 service drive concerns

By: Bria Brown | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published July 19, 2017

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ROSEVILLE — After being fed up with numerous crashes he’s seen on the westbound Interstate 696 service drive west of Gratiot Avenue, Jerry Tranchmontagne, a 27-year Roseville resident, advocated for changes to make the area safer, and he received a follow-up letter June 23 from Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle stating that the area would get additional signs and pavement markings.   

Tranchmontagne’s concern was that the low curb height and high speeds of drivers have contributed to numerous crashes on 11 Mile Road between Gratiot and Groveland Street.

Steudle stated there would be signing modifications and pavement marking modifications. 

At the intersections of Groveland Street and the I-696 service drives, there will be warning signs with street name plaques on the eastbound and westbound service drives in advance of Groveland Street, and additional “cross traffic does not stop” signing for Groveland Street at the eastbound and westbound service drives.

“Lane use signs near (the) westbound I-696 entrance ramp” and “speed limit signs after the westbound I-696 entrance ramp gore” will be added to the westbound I-696 service drive. 

As for pavement modifications, the Groveland Street bridge would “add striping to the wide ridge to designate a single lane northbound and southbound at the I-696 service drive intersections to keep vehicles from queuing up next to each other,” Steudle stated.  

Michigan Department of Transportation Deputy Metro Region Engineer Matt Chynoweth said that after listening to Tranchmontagne’s concerns, the state did a road safety audit, which involved sending out a team of traffic and safety engineers to look at the roadway, cars in the area, speeds and infrastructure. 

MDOT has long-term plans for the area, including the traffic signal at Groveland and the service drive.

According to Chynoweth, the signal currently flashes yellow for the service drive and flashes red for Groveland street. 

“We’re going to do a signal warrant study to find out if the cross volume traffic is substantial enough to do a phased signal,” said Chynoweth. “That way, the service drive will be stopped as a part of the signal.”  

Chynoweth also mentioned there were some things to keep in mind about the service drive. 

“That whole section of the service drive is our emergency route when there are issues on 696. If there’s a crash on 696 or something that prevents travel on 696, we have signage out there that goes into effect that helps manage traffic on the service drive. We still need to keep that part of it functioning,” he said. 

MDOT’s goal is to have the signs, the flashing beacon on the pedestrian walking sign, and the pavement markings completed by the end of the year. 

“We have it in our maintenance budget to do stuff like that,” said Chynoweth.    

Tranchmontagne talked about being in communication with Chynoweth. 

“He’s seeing what I was seeing, and he’s really pushed this to make something happen,” said Tranchmontagne. 

He said that Roseville’s chief of police, James Berlin, has assigned more police patrol. 

“He’s put extra patrols out there to try to slow things down, but it can’t be all on the Police Department. There has to be education, and the speeds have to be slowed down,” he said. 

Tranchmontagne said the state has “stepped up” by starting to put up new signs on Groveland street to slow down traffic. 

“As a community, we’re going to continue to monitor the roads. If the signs aren’t working, we’re going to come up with something else. We’re really happy with the progress, because we were so far apart at one time. It’s been a team effort on everybody’s part — state, local and the community — to make this happen, because I don’t think one or the other could’ve made this happen,” said Tranchmontagne. 

Roseville City Manager Scott Adkins said drivers need to be aware at all times.  

“The key to this is driver awareness of their surroundings. We’re finding that people aren’t paying attention when they’re driving — not distracted driving with texting, they’re just not paying attention,” he said. 

“The changing conditions are so important. When you go from business to residential or highway to a surface street, there’s a difference. These are the things people have to be aware of,” he added. 

At press time, Roseville had not received any recent correspondence from MDOT concerning this matter, according to Adkins. 

“We are aware of the letter from Mr. Tranchmontagne sharing it with (Roseville),” said Adkins.

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