Possible Solution Resurfaces for Dangerous Five-Point Corner

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By Doug Marrin

The level of fear in southwest Webster Township might be reduced in the near future. The idea of making safety improvements to the fearsome intersection of Mast, Joy, and Huron River Dr. has resurfaced.

The five-point intersection has been a point of white-knuckling for drivers for years. Anyone navigating the corners, especially during busy times, is well-aware of the dangerous miscellany of hair-raising factors:

  • Traffic rounding a curve, coming downhill on Mast Rd., often speeding, giving motorists only seconds to assess the activity of the other four points.
  • Traffic coming out of Dexter often using the widened road at that point as a passing lane to get around cars turning in one direction or another.
  • Motorists from any point of the intersection crossing to another point like the arcade game Frogger.
  • Party store parking blocking the view of traffic.
  • Party store traffic adding a sixth and sometimes seventh point to the intersection depending on their direction of entrance or exit.
  • River-goers using the location as an access point.
  • River goers parking along Huron River Drive, which has no parking and constricts traffic at the corner.
  • Cyclists and their varied ways of signaling and negotiating the intersection.

You can add to that list driver errors such as forgetting to use turn signals and the upcoming Mast Rd bridgework (adjacent to the intersection), reducing that section to one lane.

Complaints about the intersection have been voiced for decades now. Safety improvements for the hub are a regular item when it comes to listing locations for needed roadwork. Last week, it was brought up again at a public meeting on the Mast Road bridge construction. But oddly enough, it is the danger of the milling traffic that has kept it off the improvements list thus far.

Emily Kizer, Communications Manager for the Washtenaw County Road Commission, echoes what other agencies have said about the intersection. “Although it is an unorthodox configuration for an intersection, there are very few crashes,” she says. “It is one of those that feels very unsafe for the average motorist, and so they seem to take greater caution when traveling through it.”

Kizer adds, “I know this intersection is of great interest to many people, and we will continue to monitor it, as well as look for funding opportunities.”

That funding opportunity may have finally arrived to pave the way for a safer commute.

According to Kizer, the Road Commission was asked by Congressman Tim Walberg’s office to suggest potential road projects for his office to consider submitting as a Member Designated Project (MDP) in the upcoming surface transportation legislation. The Road Commission submitted a request for a roundabout at the five-point intersection on April 20.

Accompanying the request were letters of support from the City of Dexter, Webster Township, and the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study.

While the concept of a roundabout exists, no concrete plans have been made or even begun.

“If this project is selected as an MDP, we will go through our normal design and community engagement process,” says Kizer. “We know an improvement at this intersection has been a desire of many for a long time, so we applied for this opportunity. Only time will tell if this funding opportunity pans out for this potential project.”

Photo credit: Google

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I think a simple solution would be to reduce the speed limit southbound on Mast to 25 before traffic reaches the intersection instead of at the bridge.

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