You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 6:06 a.m.

Late-night crash closes M-14 at Barton Road

By Paula Gardner


Investigators from the Michigan State Police focus on the crash scene.

Courtney Sacco |

Michigan State Police are investigating a crash that took place late Tuesday night on M-14 near Ann Arbor.

The crash, reported at about 11 p.m., resulted in the closing of the eastbound side of the highway.

Investigators were on the scene for more than two hours before the highway was reopened.

Details on the collision and injuries among drivers were not available early Wednesday.

This story will be updated.


Michael Prozinski

Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

I use this ramp at least once a day, and I was also on the citizens advisory committee to update the Northeast Area Transportation plan, which happened about 8-10 years ago. Some information that came out of that: Surprisingly enough, the accident rate at this ramp is not outside of the normal rate for a Michigan freeway exit with this much traffic. Hard to believe, but that's what the study and statistics said. But, it sure does seem like that guardrail takes a beating. However, since they started installing the reflectors on the guardrails, (which were not there when the statistics were compiled), I have observed far less damage to the guardrail. My non-scientific observations are that it's at least a factor of 3 or 4 times less frequent. There are significant hurdles to improving this ramp further. Besides statistics that don't warrant it, any proposed improvements wouldn't meet current MDOT standards. So, it won't get funding from MDOT or federal money to reconfigure the ramp. Many alternatives were looked at and modeled, such as extending the ramp, adding a ramp at Nixon, closing some combination of the eastbound on/off and or westbound ramps, etc. For various reasons, none of the changes were feasible due to cost or MDOT regulations, (except for closing the ramps). The official recommendation of our group was to close the East bound side, and make it available for emergency access only. Studies showed closing it would have very minimal impact on commuting times. One big concern was response times for Emergency vehicles to this part of town. Crossing the river from Main street, or getting from the highway to a place you can turn around or get to the hospital is much more difficult if these are closed. For these reasons, the emergency services chiefs were against closing the ramp. Also, there was SIGNIFICANT push back from area residences, ESPECIALLY the Barton Hills community which wants to keep the ramps open.


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

While most drivers sometimes drive too fast and make mistakes (who of us hasn't?) has it been considered: 1. To add a 3rd merging lane up the hill from the Barton Drive entrance. 2. On a sign leading up to the Barton exit have it display a diagram that shows that the exit 'ramp' is pretty much a 90 degree right. 3. A sign coming down the hill (heading east) that drivers to use extra caution as they are entering a 'high accident area'?


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 3:51 p.m.

Well,just as I suspected people blame the ramp.Well, guess what folks ? I have a idea.Drive better.I've been driving for 34 years and have had 2 accidents.One was because I was drunk ( thank God I was the only one involved ) the second was my fault ( I had other things on my mind ( divorce and my kid )).I've driven on that ramp MANY times and when I do I pay extra attention to traffic. My no reply thumbs down troll fans may now do what they do best.....


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 9:14 p.m.

It is very confusing to those who have not driven on it many times. Roads and traffic patterns should make sense to people who have never seen it before.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

It's not the ramp, it's the drivers. Although they made the northbound merge lane considerably shorter the last time this area was reworked, for some reason. I am sure this will be a terribly congested spot once the giant parking structure goes up on Wall St.

Jon Wax

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.

here's some questions in re: that area any chance we can start making the guard rails outta nerf? because it seems we're replacing em about 1 per month, give or take. much cheaper if they were made outta nerf. just glue em back on and let the next wingnut go flying through. rain, snow, rush hour. seems like those guard rails are constantly getting smashed. oh and quick question: what's the cost for repairs? exiting or jumping on that ramp is a mess. i have no clue how that house at the bottom of the east bound ramp sold. i feel bad for folks who bought a nice quiet piece of riverfront property only to have it flooded with traffic 3 or 4 hours every day. probably wasn't like this when they bought in. this one's gonna be REAL popular: close the bridge ramps in both directions. the area isn't designed for a heavy traffic load. the speed limit is all wrong. the increased speed limit from 35 to 45 on main street truely sucks. i've heard of plans to convert the hawkins car repair area into a park. if this is true, then there would need to a 3 way light at that point to allow exiting traffic. if that's true, then the 45 mph speed limit is a surefire death sentence for some poor driver. folks doing 50 are going to come up on the back end of a line of stopped cars waiting for the light to change. my guess is that quit a few folks will wind up coming to a stop on the lotus property. whoever is in charge of main street management... you're not really doing so well. plymouth road, maple, state, washtenaw. plenty of alternatives. shut it down. the main street bridge ramps suck. personally i vote we close em down. and i actually live ON main street so i'm gonna be just as inconvenienced as everyone else. NIMFY not in my front yard. Peace Wax


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

The ramp design is to blame just as much as the drivers. I used to use the on ramp every morning, until I got smart. I realized that while at the stop, the people exiting were lined up perfectly to T-bone me. The always brand new guard rail just goes to show how dangerous it is to enter there. I don't really care if the people exiting crash because they don't abide by the 15 MPH limit, but they will inevitably take out an innocent person waiting at the stop.

Paula Gardner

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

We just got updated info on this crash. John Counts is writing a new story on it. Sounds like a single car crash (the blue one in this photo). The driver is OK, we hear, but he's on the phone now getting reports on passengers.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

The ciy's most recent evaluation of the ramps

Jeffersonian Liberal

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

Did the same moron design the entrance ramp at I94 and Jackson Rd. ?


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

I would close the east side on and off ramps at Barton. As far as the speed limit goes, you could make it 55, but no one would do it. It's downhill on both sides and very few slow to 65 now. I use the eastbound side a lot and I usually get into the left lane and slow down but there are always people running up on my bumper at 80+ or passing me in the right lane. I don't think that drivers even notice the 65 signs in most cases.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

I have to add my agreement to the sentiments about that ramp. Whoever decided that using a stop sign as part of a freeway system was a good idea needs to never be allowed to work in planning again. That is a seriously bad design.

Real Life

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

That is a stupid ramp, to be sure. What most don't know is that the design was meant to be temporary until a proper ramp could be built just north of the current ramp. NIMBY Northsiders blocked it, killing the plan back in the 1990's, if I recall, after fighting it for decades. Of course, the fact that people are now injured or dead were of no concern.

Kyle Mulka

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

I think I still have the front bumper which fell off of a car that hit the guard rail instead of me while I was sitting at that stop sign.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

We read almost weekly about accidents in this area. Not sure what needs to happen. I frequent this stretch of highway often and find it amazingly irresponsible to have an entrance in this particular area off Barton Drive. These drivers entering the freeway have to go from a STOP SIGN to entering a freeway of folks driving 60-70mph on a curve. It's the most absurd thing I've ever seen. No wonder people are getting hit here. I'd like to see them close this down and have the folks trying to get on 14 head down to the next available entrance. Maybe save a few lives by having do drive a few miles to get on the freeway. Just a thought.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

Still waiting for some long term data on area freeway accidents.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

jcj...I, and a few others have suggested that.I really don't think that the " journalists" at would have a hard time getting that info.( I would think that they could just research their own reports )

Ricardo Queso

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.

Not a good sign when the MSP investigators show up and the freeway is closed for hours.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.

This has to be one of the most screwed up ramp areas I have ever seen! I hope everyone is okay. They really need to bring the speed limit down for this stretch, have additional signage for slow merging traffic, and maybe a speed radar to let people know That they are speeding. We just had a recent write up about this area and crashes. It's time something is done.


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

I completely disagree that the ramps are fine. The ramp maybe easy for locals to navigate, but for people that haven't encountered it before, it's not safe at all. And a 25 mph exit ramp off an interstate that if missed, vehicels go directly into stopped or slowly merging traffic, is not safe in any context.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

djm12652 - I believe it was a year or so ago?


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

I thought the speed through the stretch approaching the Barton Hill and Main St exit and entrance ramps were dropped to 55, when did the limit go up?


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2 p.m.

Also, it would be one thing if we could simply blame drivers who ignore the signs and drive too fast IF they only out themselves at risk. However, the stop sign for the on ramp puts cars directly in the path of a car who is exiting too fast and canot negotiate the turn. Looking at the picture, it appears as this is likely the case. So you could be incredibly familiar with the intersection, minding your own business, obeying the law as you sit at the stop sign waiting for a break in freeway traffic. But that person who is not paying attention comes off the ramp too fast and T-bones you it he drivers door. We will always be at risk that another driver will cause an accident and hurt us. But this ramp exacerbates the problem and needlessly puts innocent drivers at increased risk.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

Alan true to some extent. But what is the excuse for all the accidents on area freeways that are nowhere near this spot? The common thread is usually as GoNavy said "The self-important types in this country who care only about themselves and cannot be bothered to consider the traffic around them are causing these accidents."


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

I agree with Navy and Carly that drivers often take silly risks and do not pay enough attention. However, this ramp setup is ridiculous. If you aren't from the area, you are not likely to expect just how severe the hairpin curve is when exiting from eastbound to Barton. If traffic is entering froM Main St while you are trying to exit to Barton, it can be hard to get slowed down as you are merging with traffic which is accelerating. If you are entering eastbound from Barton, you are expected to start from a stop sign, going uphill with zero on ramp. To compound things, the traffic with which you are merging is coming from around a bend and is sometimes hard to see. As was already pointed out, this was meant to be a temporary ramp. If you look at a Map of the neighborhood near Pontiac Tr, Hilldale, Larkspur, Manor you will notice that there is a greenway left undeveloped which was SUPPOSED to have been the roadway leading towards M14. Originally, Huron Parkway was supposed to run all the way through here to the highway. For whatever reason, there was a delay and when they tried to move forward with the project, the people who had bought houses near this undeveloped land threw a fit and complained that they didn't want a road built n land that was designed for exactly that purpose. A new on ramp here is long overdue.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

Blaming drivers is a bit off, in my opinion. It is way too fast through that area. There are hard curves with a tall median barrier that you can't see around, cars entering slowly at Main and trying to merge left while drivers entering at Barton have to stop before entering a freeway. You can't expect drivers to enter a 65 mph zone from a dead stop without causing problems. Those who are familiar with the area, as I assume those blaming drivers above are, know how to negotiate it but it is horribly confusing to anyone not familiar with it to come around a curve and find drivers entering from a stop.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

Could not agree with GoNavy and Carly more!


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

Oh, and the guardrail was just replaced this week so we were due for another accident... the new guard rails are just too shiny!


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

They actually just *increased* the speed limit on east bound m14 from i believe 65 to 70. I don't remember where I heard it but I remember the reason being "because they go 70 there anyway"... I thought that was crazy but whatever. The Barton Ramp is a 15 mph ramp and there are a billion signs ... doesn't matter, that guard rail has to be replaced at least 1x per month because someone thinks that 15mph is just a suggestion.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

The Barton/M14 on and off ramps were originally meant to be temporary at this location. They're still there because the Ann Arbor residents want to avoid interfering with the current ecosystem/ deer migration route in the proposed new place. At least this is what I remember from growing here. Which brings me to my point, I lived near that stretch of highway for 17 years, learned how to enter and exit and drive on the highway at that location and I have never once been even close to an accident there. So I agree with GoNavy, its not the ramps, its the people.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

It isn't the ramp's the drivers. The self-important types in this country who care only about themselves and cannot be bothered to consider the traffic around them are causing these accidents. The ones who believe that all wheel drive makes puts their car in the same league as an F1 racecar. Those who think you can talk on the phone while sipping their Starbucks and merging. I lived out East for several years. Want to see some crazy ramp areas? Check out the Triboro Bridge, or any number of the interchanges in the NY-NJ-CT region. Somehow, as crazy as it seems, there were fewer accidents there than I've ever seen on M14/US23/I275.