Report ranks Washtenaw County's most dangerous intersections
Courtney Sacco I AnnArbor.com
An intersection’s rank is determined by two factors - crash rate and total crashes.
The ranks are based on statistics from 2009 to 2011, which is the most recent accident data the Michigan State Police has released.
Washtenaw County Road Commission director Roy Townsend said the data helps the agency determine which intersections might need safety improvements and deserve closer attention from road officials.
The Road Commission also examines the type of accidents at each intersection. That provides insight as to what issue might be causing crashes.
Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com
Road Commission officials noticed that there were a significant number of accidents caused by cars turning left out of driveways near the busy intersection. The agency applied for federal safety grants and received funding to install narrow safety medians in the center of the road that will prevent left turns out of driveways near the intersection.
“Turning right in and right out is the safest thing, so when people turn left in and out and cross three to five lanes of traffic, that’s where you don’t see a car coming,” Townsend said, adding that today’s safety standards wouldn’t allow that many driveways built so close to the intersection.
Each year, the Road Commission applies for up to five safety grants, but competes with other road commissions and governments statewide. Some years it won’t receive any extra funds, and in other years it receives funding for up to three projects.
Five of the top 10 intersections on the list are in Pittsfield Township and five are in the Washtenaw and Carpenter corridors. Townsend said that Carpenter is especially busy because there are few north-south roads that run the span of the county’s populated areas.
Whittaker Road turns into Huron Street and eventually Huron River Drive before curving west in Ypsilanti. Hewitt and Golfside Roads both end.
“That pushes a lot of traffic onto Carpenter,” Townsend said.
Likewise, Washtenaw and Packard are the two main direct thoroughfares between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, the county’s two population centers. That means intersections in those areas also see the highest traffic counts in the county and those statistics nearly correlate to the dangerous intersections list.
High traffic volumes lead to delays and that leads motorists to take more chances, Townsend said.
“There is a high volume of traffic at some intersections period. So there is more delay and people have a tendency to take more chances,” he said. “You just have to keep looking at the intersections and hopefully find a way to reduce delay, and try to figure out what things you can do to improve to safety.”
For example, last year, the Road Commission added an additional right turn lane on westbound Washtenaw just before the Hogback-Carpenter intersection, which helped reduce delays.
Other safety projects scheduled over the next several years include the addition of a center left turn lane on Rawsonville at Martz Roads. Turn lanes will be added at the intersection of Curtis and Plymouth roads.
The shoulder will be paved and widened at Carpenter and Bemis where the road curves on Carpenter and a high number of cars are driving off the road. And there is a realignment project scheduled for the intersection of East Austin and Eisman roads.
“We continue to monitor the roads (countywide) and apply for safety funds,” Townsend said.
- Download the entire list of intersection crash totals:
View Most Dangerous Intersections in Washtenaw County in a larger map