Special Report: Mid-Michigan's Most Dangerous Intersections

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

"The high problem intersections are also the high-traffic intersections and that's what, in my opinion, creates the problem," said Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth.

A safe situation at an intersection can turn dangerous quickly, if you're not careful. Statistics from the Michigan State Police High Crash Intersection Report track which intersections see the most accidents each year.

The most dangerous intersection in all of Mid-Michigan in 2013? Saginaw Highway in Delta Township, where eight intersections between Waverly Road and Marketplace Boulevard made the list, totaling an astounding 217 crashes.

Louanne Pelton has driven Saginaw her entire life and says a lot has changed.

"There were some accidents, but not like it is now, you know, not congested like this," she said.

To help keep the road safe, Eaton County Lt. Jeff Campbell says deputies always direct patrols to the area, but it's difficult to keep up.

"You see a lot of extra traffic volume," he said. "There are also a lot of driveways from businesses along the way. It's a multi-lane highway, so there are a lot of factors involved."

Unlike Eaton, the worst intersections in Ingham County aren't so close to each other. Jolly and Cedar in Lansing had 42 accidents last year, third highest in the county. Nearly seven miles away, there were 43 accidents at Saginaw and Homer street, where traffic leaving U.S. 127 merges with northbound traffic on Homer.

But the intersection that tops Ingham County and the single worst in the four counties we looked at? Grand River Ave. and Hagadorn in East Lansing with 65 accidents in 2013. It sits near homes, businesses and the Michigan State University campus.

Lines from those waiting at the light are a big hassle for MSU junior Allison McMaster, who lives right next door.

"It's crazy trying to turn out of here, it's crazy trying to turn in here, especially from like 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. everyday," she said. "It's almost impossible and I hate it."

It's traffic a lot of these intersections weren't built to handle in the first place.

"The population has grown significantly since those roads were put in and that's what creates the congestion that creates the accidents and the back-ups and all that go with that," says Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth.

Statistics from Clinton County pale in comparison to Eaton and Ingham, but nonetheless, it has its dangerous spots too.

The stretch of Business U.S. 127 between Huron Dr. and Sturgis St. in St. Johns had the top four crash sites last year, totaling 35.

The most dangerous intersection in that mile-long stretch is at Business U.S. 127 and Huron, with ten accidents. It includes a Michigan-left and acts as the entrance to a complex that includes a Walmart and several other businesses.

As statistics have shown, intersections near businesses seem to be the biggest problem areas. The case is no different in Jackson County. The number one most dangerous intersection there sits in front of the Westwood Mall; Brown St. and Michigan Ave., with 31 crashes last year. Burt Richardson lives right by it and he's not surprised.

"I'd believe it, I hear a lot of sirens that way," he said. "I try to avoid it if I can."

Other high-crash intersections in Jackson County include West Ave. and North St. and West Ave. and Boardman, right off the U.S. 127 exit. They had 27 and 30 accidents respectively.

Jackson County Sheriff Steven Rand is well aware of all three.

"The only thing I can tell people is be patient," said Sheriff Rand. "Allow yourself a little extra time to get where you're going. When people need to get to where they're going, they tend to rush and that's what leads to a lot of these crashes."

The good news is, according to the High Crash Report, none of the top ten intersections in all four counties saw a death in 2013. Sheriff Rand equates that to seat belt use and safer cars.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is also working to make state roads more safe. Those include Saginaw Highway, Grand River Ave. and several others that contain dangerous intersections. Kari Arend tells News 10, Grand River and Hagadorn got a new, updated signal, last year.

Signal timing changes were also made throughout Saginaw Highway, both in Eaton County and at the intersection with Homer St., to help reduce crashes and relieve congestion. The northbound off-ramp from U.S. 127 onto Homer was also part of a study for a safety project consideration, but no severe crashes were found to have happened.

Cedar St. and Jolly Rd. continues to be monitored, following a change to signal timing in 2008.

According to MDOT, the most common crashes at many high-crash intersections are rear-end.

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