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Posted on Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 5:14 a.m.

Roundabout construction to close Superior Township intersection Monday for the summer

By Amy Biolchini


The intersection of Geddes and Ridge roads in Superior Township will be closed for the summer as crews hired by the Washtenaw County Road Commission convert the four-way-stop intersection into a single-lane roundabout.

Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Road Commission

The intersection of Geddes and Ridge roads in Superior Township will be closed to drivers this summer as four-way stop is converted in to a single-lane roundabout.

The $1.1 million project is being coordinated by the Washtenaw County Road Commission.

The closure starts Monday, June 17. The Road Commission’s contractor for the work has until Aug. 23 to complete construction, per the agreement between the two parties.

Traffic at the intersection mounted this year after the opening of South Pointe Scholars Charter Academy in the southwest corner of the intersection at 10550 Geddes Road.

The charter public school’s parent agency, National Heritage Academies, agreed to fund the roundabout portion of the project. NHA receives its revenue from the state.

Before NHA built the school, it conducted a traffic study to see how its addition would affect area roads. Based on the findings from the study, the county's Road Commission suggested the roundabout, according to school officials.

The road construction project was factored in to the costs of building and operating the school, officials said.

The school will also be funding the installation of new streetlights at the roundabout. The Road Commission will pay for future maintenance and all electricity costs.

In addition to roundabout construction, the project also involves replacing a culvert on Ridge Road over Fowler Creek near the school.

The designated detour—about a seven-mile route around the intersection—will be to use Prospect Road, Holmes Road, Michigan Avenue, Denton Road and Proctor Road.

View Geddes and Ridge roads in a larger map

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Scott Batson

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 6:09 p.m.

The FHWA has a video about modern roundabouts that is mostly accurate ( ). Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world. Visit for modern roundabout FAQs and safety facts. Modern roundabouts, and the pedestrian refuge islands approaching them, are two of nine proven safety measures identified by the FHWA, The safety comes from the 'slow and go' operation instead of the 'stop or go fast' way a stop light works. The smaller size of the modern roundabout is what makes them safer and keeps speeds in the 20 mph range. This makes it much easier to avoid a crash or stop for pedestrians. It also means that if a crash happens the likelihood of injury is very low. Safety is the #1 reason there are over 3,000 modern roundabouts in the US today and many more on the way.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 8:45 p.m.

For those of you that think this is in the middle of nowhere you could not be more wrong, that part of the County and into Wayne County into Canton is a very fast growing community and the traffic on Geddes is very busy from people that travel from Canton to Ypsilanti or into Ann Arbor. Geddes is the most traveled route for people that live in Canton or Ypsilanti and now that the school has been built there creates more congestion. Believe it or not people do live outside Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.

Ann English

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

Back in 2005 and part of 2006, I used Geddes Road to get to Canton. It was a pretty, scenic route to Canton, but I began to encounter a long line of cars ahead of me waiting for their turn to get through that intersection or turn onto Ridge Road (a two-way or four-way stop), so I stopped using Geddes. Geddes Road ends at Sheldon Road in Canton. It isn't as scenic, but I started using Michigan Avenue afterwards to get to Canton, because the traffic keeps moving along it.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 8:17 p.m.

This intersection is apparently so lightly used that they don't hesitate to just close it for a few months. So why does it need a roundabout?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

Whew. I thought they were talking about State and Ellsworth. I have known about this one for some time. Great idea since NHA is paying for it. They should also build, like they have in Grand Rapids a charter high school.


Tue, Jun 25, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

SalineTeacher, do you have a link to more info about a high school there? I haven't read anything about it.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 5:42 p.m.

They are buidling a high school; at the same site. Hence the changes to improve peak traffic flow.

Sandra Samons

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 5:06 p.m.

I don't even use that intersection, but I am getting very tired of reading about the next new roundabout. I think it's become a fad that is using funds which could be better allocated. There are roads I travel regularly that have been badly neglected and when I call to ask when they will be fixed I am told a long sad story about the lack of funds! What's wrong with this picture?

Scott Batson

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 6:07 p.m.

The first cost of any two choices is a poor way to compare. Life-cycle cost is the best (present value of future costs, a.k.a. net present value). When comparing modern roundabouts to signals for a 20-year life cycle (the standard period), modern roundabouts usually cost us much less. Costs to compare include: first cost (design/land/construction), operation and maintenance (electricity, re-striping, etc.), crash reduction, daily delay (what's your time worth?), daily fuel consumption, pollution (generated), area insurance rates (this costs more where it is less safe to drive). Each of these things, and others, can be estimated for any two choices and everyone near or using the project area will pay some portion of all of these costs. More info:

Sandra Samons

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 6:15 p.m.

It may be true that the roundabout money cannot be used to fix the roads I travel, but I'm sure the money would not just sit there. It would be used, and perhaps more constructively. Or maybe not. I'm a little cynical about our political system right now!


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

(Other) roundabouts are often built with federal "congestion mitigation" funds, money that can't be used for many other purposes.

Larry Ryan

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

Oops, wrong story... sorry.

Larry Ryan

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

To be clear, this is MDOT's train. The program has to have regional (RTA) and state support or it won't go anywhere. But, it would be transformational for this region and go a long ways toward mitigating traffic congestion in Ann Arbor. It would be a huge boost for Ypsilanti. Thousands of UM and private sector workers ride it every day, especially if it connected them to the medical center. It is also much less capital intensive now that the money is already in place to fix the tracks, MDOT now owns the tracks and the train itself and federal funds are building new stations. Can't wait.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

Crumbling roads and thousands of unfilled potholes, and yet they build more roundabouts!


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

Just another case of stupid fever brought on by ignorance ..


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

While the traffic from the school built there warrants something, I would certainly have preferred a traffic signal that operated fully during school arrival/dismissal and was blinking red/4 way stop as it is now the rest of the time (90% of the time) This in my opinion is overkill just to handle that school. But common sense has never reached government level.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

So you would prefer a forced stop even if there is no traffic coming to simply reducing speed slightly and proceeding through a roundabout? Doesn't make sense to me. I've traveled a lot in Britain where they have roundabouts at small intersections. They're much easier and safer to travel through than four way stops. I'd add more if I could. My candidate is the Hogback/E. Huron River drive intersection, where even if no one is coming, you have to wait for the left turn signal onto E. Huron.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:44 p.m.

Insurance Institute study says the costs are similar. This intersection is busy during short time spans. That is why the light makes sense, only operational during the busy time arrival/departure during active school calendar. And, the intersection wouldn't be closed the entire summer with people driving an extra 7 miles each way.

Ed Kimball

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

In the long run, roundabouts cost less than traffic signals.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:55 p.m.

Prior news reports were that they would keep through-traffic open throughout construction. Were these reports erroneous, or did they just decide that traffic at the intersection is so light it wouldn't be a big deal to close it? What a waste of money anyway; I go through this intersection every day during rush hour and I don't think I've ever seen more than 3 or 4 cars waiting their turn to get through the stop signs. Adding a couple hundred cars a day from the school is nothing, and with Superior Township zoning and conserved land, it never will, or at least not for a decade or more. It doesn't even come close to warranting a simple traffic light, let alone this which will forever add to road maintenance costs at a time that we can't afford to maintain the roads we already have. If this was recommended by the road commission, the road commission is run by those that couldn't care less about wasting other people's money, and were just looking for something to extort from the school to justify their existence. The fact that they're able to just post a 7 mile (!) detour and shut down a minor thoroughfare and an even more minor thoroughfare for an entire summer tells me that traffic volumes come nowhere close to justifying this. I can only hope this is nothing like the ridiculous environmentally irresponsible monstrosity they built at Superior Road, which is lit up like a Christmas tree 24/7, is so wide it's awkward to navigate because most people don't stay in their lane, wasted about an acre of land, included crosswalks literally to nowhere, has a lovely weed garden in the middle that someone has to be paid to hack down every now and then, and when it needs to be rebuilt in a few years, will probably cost more than what it would cost to resurface 5 miles of conventional roadway. On this new one, they're already off to a stellar beginning; one of the relocated utility poles fell right in the middle of the asphalt bike path that was just constructed a year ago.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

Ken, I think the lighted crosswalks at the Superior/Geddes roundabout aka maze, are used primarily by the deer that play in the roundabout at night. Oh yeah, the raccoons and geese like the nightlights and crosswalks too.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

"The charter public school's parent agency, National Heritage Academies, agreed to fund the roundabout portion of the project." The money being spent on this project wouldn't be spent elsewhere.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

True, but it will forever add to public road maintenance costs. There will be ongoing maintenance for a median, ongoing costs for additional lighting (which adds to light pollution), and when it needs to be repaired, it will cost far more and be more disruptive to traffic than if it were a conventional intersection. For what they're spending on this, the county could have requested funding for the resurfacing of both the intersection and Geddes to the county line- which would have freed up money for other desperately needed resurfacing projects. They chose not to, in favor of the latest trend among traffic planners.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

Roundabouts seem to be the latest craze around here! Anyone else feeling dizzy?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:24 p.m.

With bridges collapsing and pot holes everywhere were installing more round-a-bouts? No wonder this country is going broke.................who comes up with this stuff and prioritizes the way our hard earned tx dollars are spent?

Basic Bob

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

@Tom Todd, Information on how to make freedom of information requests is on the school's website. Feel free to exercise your right as a citizen and taxpayer.

Tom Todd

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

a PUBLIC charter? that's not subject to FOIA!

Basic Bob

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

The SCHOOL is paying for it. It is needed because the local public schools don't educate the children to the satisfaction of their parents, and they arrive in droves morning and afternoon to drop off their little ones. If the local public schools actually worked, the children would most likely arrive at neighborhood schools by bus. Everyone would be happy and this project would not be necessary. If the public schools leased out their closed buildings to the public charter schools, the roads there are already designed to handle the traffic, and this project as well as the building would be unnecessary. Since the school is a public charter school supported by state tax dollars, ultimately all taxpayers in Michigan are paying for this roundabout which would not be needed if the local schools were anywhere close to average. With that being said, the county is responsible for traffic control on public roads, no matter how many or few use it. They might simply put up a traffic light. This would not improve the flow of traffic, although it would make it safer than a four-way stop. It would also cost more to operate than a roundabout due to the need to supply electricity and change light bulbs. So they are smart to take the money from the state school budget to spend on a million dollars of asphalt, paint, and labor.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

Geddes and Ridge Road!!!! A turnabout at Geddes and Ridge? That's in the middle of nowhere and is closer to Canton at the edge of the county. It's largely residential behind strip malls. It's not a major thoroughfare, there's Michigan Ave to the immediate south and Ford Rd to the immediate north. What's the purpose of throwing these tax dollars there? We can't get roads patched or resurfaced but the County has money to throw away on roundabouts near Canton and S. Lyon (Pontiac Trail and Seven Mile). I don't even understand the one at Geddes and Superior. There never seems to be enough traffic in those areas throughout the day to justify this. EVen if there are slowdowns during the business hours, it seems like these dollars would be better spent elsewhere. The roundabout is supposed to be a safe alternative for use to aid in preventing congestion and for a smoother flow of traffic. What's the purpose of sticking these out in the middle of nowhere while there are many intersections that could better do with one or many road surfaces that need repair.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

From the story: "The $1.1 million project is being coordinated by the Washtenaw County Road Commission." Coordinate does not mean "to pay for"; it means the County is supervising construction of a road improvement. "National Heritage Academies, agreed to fund the roundabout portion of the project. NHA receives its revenue from the state." The charter school will pay for the roundabout. The charter school consulted with the County Road Commission and determined that a roundabout was the best solution to additional traffic volume at the intersection due to the school. As someone who has driven through the Pontiac Trail/Seven Mile intersection during rush hour, I can attest to the unnecessary congestion and delay caused by a 4-way stop. South Lyon is a growing residential area, and commuter traffic to and from Ann Arbor will only increase. What's unreasonable about any of this?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:03 p.m.

My sentiments exactly.