SOUTH HAVEN — When Michigan Department of Transportation constructed a roundabout on M-43 Highway a decade ago, the agency did so to reduce accidents at the state trunkline’s busy three-way intersection.
Over the years, MDOT’s strategy has paid off. Crashes have been significantly reduced. Still, some motorists continue to struggle with negotiating the circular roadway.
The latest serious mishap occurred in August when the driver of an eastbound vehicle failed to yield at the roundabout. His vehicle careened over the concrete traffic island, went airborne and then slammed into the side of Maple Grove Grill and Bar. The driver ended up being taken to the hospital while the restaurant grappled with the extensive damage the crash caused.
That incident and several others have prompted South Haven Township officials to try to come up with a solution to make the heavily used roundabout more safe.
“We want to be proactive,” South Haven Township Supervisor Ross Stein said. The roundabout is located right where two roads intersect at angles with M-43 Highway.
Currently, as motorists traveling on M-43 or the two other roads approach the roundabout, they see a series of yellow neon signs instructing them to yield to traffic to their left and proceed counter-clockwise into the circle roadway at a slow speed. As nightfall approaches, the signs can be seen from a distance because of their neon coating.
But board members think overhead lights, such as one along other rural intersections are needed at the roundabout. So on Wednesday members voted to install two more overhead street lights – one at each side road intersection.
It will cost $300 to install the light fixtures. The township will also pick up the cost of the monthly electrical usage fees.
“If we get lights there, maybe people will quit running over it (the cement traffic island),” Stein said.