Okemos, Mich. (WILX) It's one of the busiest intersections in Mid-Michigan and it could soon be even more congested.
At peak hours of driving during the week, traffic at Okemos and Jolly roads can easily run bumper to bumper. Once the Jackson National Life Insurance expansion opens just down the road south of Interstate 96, the congestion is expected to become even worse.
Which is why the Ingham County Road Department is planning some changes to the area in hopes of easing some of the traffic headaches there.
"I try to avoid driving here everyday," said Harmony Gmazel while filling her car up at the Marathon gas station on the corner of that intersection.
"I don't have any expectations I'll be leaving this gas station within the next 10 minutes, it'll probably take that long."
Whether trying to make a left onto Okemos Road to get to the highway, or attempting to exit one of the several businesses located near the intersection, drivers pack their patience daily.
"Sometimes you have to wait five or ten minutes and it's always a struggle," said David Patton, who drives through the intersection every day.
The expansion at the Jackson National Life insurance building located just south of Interstate 96 in Alaiedon Township is expected to bring an additional 400 jobs, at least. But several hundred more could be possible down the road.
With the impending influx in mind, Bill Conklin with the Ingham County Road Dept. says the time is right to put the green light on a few construction project to ease the headaches.
"A traffic study was done which recommended certain road improvements be done and the state economic development transportation fund provides funding for the road work that's needed to handle that extra traffic," he said.
With a total estimated cost for the project coming in at just under $5 million, Conklin said about $4 million of that will be paid for through grants from the state's economic development fund, prompted by the JNL expansion.
JNL will contribute about $660,000 in matching funds while the Ingham Co. Road Department will pay about $530,000.
The project includes proposed additional left turn lanes on Jolly in both directions, additional right turn lanes in both directions on Okemos and further south near JNL there's plans for additional lanes and a traffic signal at the corner of Okemos and Sandhill.
"The left turn especially from westbound Jolly to southbound Okemos to get on the freeway or to JNL is a fairly heavy movement," Conklin said. "This would significantly improve that movement and get folks hopefully through on one cycle at the light instead of waiting two or three."
However, Conklin admits the entire project isn't a done deal. While the the improvements slated for Okemos Road south of Interstate 96 near JNL are a-go, the changes at Okemos and Jolly will only happen if the adjacent property owners agree to the widening and possible loss of right of way space.
Discussions with affected property owners and both Meridian and Alaiedon Townships is already underway, according to Conklin.
Construction on the road south of I-96 isn't scheduled to begin until 2015, while work at the intersection of Jolly and Okemos isn't expected until 2016.