Dexter Authorizes Study for Troublesome Intersection

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The intersection leading into Mill Creek Middle School gets busy and backed up at student drop-off and pick-up times. Photos by Doug Marrin.

Traffic often gets clogged at Mill Creek Middle School when school lets out and is busy when it begins. It’s a problem the city is looking into.

Vehicles with parents picking up their kids from school fill the school’s circle drive, usually lined up onto Ann Arbor Rd, waiting to turn right into Mill Creek’s lot. Meanwhile, cars often line up at the traffic signal from the other direction (east) to turn left into the same drive. Two lanes of traffic want the same space. Left turners, perhaps under pressure from the line behind them, sometimes make a move without a space to land, leaving their vehicle partially in the ongoing traffic lane.

The traffic gets thick in the morning as well during school drop off.

The afternoon traffic jam, while annoying, doesn’t last long, about twenty minutes. Drivers from all directions seem experienced and careful. Perhaps it's like the five-corner white-knuckling intersection of Mast, Joy, and Huron River Dr—everyone knows it's precarious and dangerous, so they take extra care.

BUT at Meadow View Ct and Ann Arbor St in front of Mill Creek, kids are crossing the road. A crossing guard helps them across Ann Arbor St in the afternoon at the appropriate times. The kids are on their own in the morning. The big worry is that motorists passing through, keeping an eye on the two shifting lanes of traffic trying to get into the same space, could be distracted from spotting the smaller moving objects trying to cross, especially on a dark winter morning.

Several years ago, the City of Dexter installed four flashing beacon crosswalks on Dan Hoey, Baker, and Ann Arbor roads to help students safely get across the streets. The council recently approved another flashing crosswalk for Dan Hoey Rd. And now, the traffic issue at Mill Creek has reached the city’s attention.

At its Nov 28 meeting, the Dexter City Council addressed the issue by approving $9,000 for a traffic study of the intersection. The city’s engineering firm, OHM Advisors, will conduct the survey to determine the most efficient and safest way to move traffic and pedestrians through the intersection.

Steve Dearing, Senior Traffic Engineer at OHM, told the council, "We put a team together that represents a lot of experience in not only just school safety reviews but also the general review of intersections and intersection safety.”

Dearing explained that OHM would collect crash data, traffic counts, signal timing, and other related data to feed into their computer models. However, the human factor will have the last word.

“We’re going to be collecting a lot of data that you would look for in a (traffic signal) warrant study,” said Dearing. “But more than that, we’re using people that are used to viewing intersections in the field and recognizing whether the operations are appropriate. Data collection will help, but we really want to put boots on the ground, having people eyeball the intersection.”

OHM's proposal stated it could begin the study immediately upon authorization with a preliminary report within one month of collecting traffic counts.

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