Intersection construction: M-22 project to enhance traffic safety

MANISTEE TWP. — The gateway to Michigan’s famed M-22 is accessed off of U.S. 31 in Manistee County, making the intersection one of the area’s most populated.

Construction is currently being performed to enhance the flow and safety of the corner for local and visiting traffic alike.

“Primarily we wanted to make sure the intersection was easier for folks to navigate when approaching U.S. 31 (from M-22),” said Steve Parsons, Bureau of Indian Affairs Roads/planning coordinator. “When the project is complete, we hope it’s much more convenient and safe for the public.”

The project, which is federally funded through a Tribal Transportation Program safety grant, calls for a 20-foot widening of the mouth of M-22, creating space for three southbound lanes, specifically designated for left and right turns as well as straight traffic to Loon Drive/entrance to the Little River Trading Post gas station across U.S. 31.

The project has been years in the making, according to Parsons, beginning with a road safety audit that was conducted in 2015.

“We were interested particularly in that intersection,” he said. “One of the suggestions that came out of the report was to properly align the M-22 portion of the intersection with (Loon Drive) across 31, which is a tribal access road.

“People have been negotiating that intersection for years, so for the most part it was working,” Parsons said, “but when heading south on M-22, it could be difficult to know which lane to get in.

“There were actually only two (southbound) lanes (at the intersection), and they weren’t marked very well, so that at times caused confusion.”

An issue highlighted in the road safety audit was an occurrence called “double stacking,” in which two southbound cars would fit in the far right lane while waiting to access U.S. 31.

“The reason that can be problematic is you’re assuming the car on the far right is going to turn right and the car on the left is going to go straight, but that may not always be the case,” Parsons said, “so we wanted to designate those lanes. It will be clear which lane to get in, and, once you’re in it, how to proceed.”

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians cited the audit’s findings when applying for the Tribal Transportation Program funds. They were awarded $257,000 to cover the cost of the project, which was also approved by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Elmer’s Crane & Dozer out of Traverse City was awarded the project bid and construction is expected to be completed prior to Oct. 31. Two lanes (northbound and southbound on M-22) will be open to traffic at all times during construction.

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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