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Posted: 03/19/14

LANE CHANGES. Above, Romeo Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Vice-chairperson Jason Arnott points out a possible trouble spot for drivers if lane configurations change at the intersection of St. Clair Street and Main Street. The Macomb County Department of Roads is proposing the changes to enhance traffic safety and flow.

(Observer photo by Chris Gray)

Lane changes on the
horizon for four corners

Observer Staff Writer
      Changes to lane configurations are down the road for Romeo's main intersection.
       Macomb County Department of Road engineers met with village officials and representatives on March 14 to discuss the findings of a traffic study conducted at the St. Clair Street and Main Street intersection.
       The intersection, known as the "four corners," is scheduled to receive traffic signal upgrades this June. As part of the upgrades, the county studied the intersection to see if vehicle delays could be reduced.
       Adam Merchant, county traffic engineer, said the study determined that changing St. Clair Street from four lanes to three at the intersection would result in safer and more efficient flows. He said removing a lane would reduce wait times by about 50 percent.
       "There is a lot of benefit       The study shows wait periods from 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. shortening from 27 seconds to 15 seconds. Similar reductions were seen during morning peak hours from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and when Romeo High School is dismissed from 2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.
       "Because of how the signal works, we get more cars through with less delay with three lanes than we do four," he said.
       He said there is a nationwide trend for going to three lanes, and Romeo's traffic volumes are low enough to make it viable.
       Village Clerk Marian McLaughlin was concerned about accidents caused by people turning into parking lots or alleyways, while Police Chief Greg Paduch questioned how officers would respond to calls when traffic is blocking the driveway leading from the police department on W. St. Clair Street.
       "We need that fourth lane to get out," Paduch said, adding the majority of accidents officers respond to are on M-53.
       Merchant said both issues were valid concerns, but they didn't have an overall impact on the configuration changes.
       "To design something for something that happens a couple times a day isn't appropriate for a design," he said.
       County officials did note, though, that the village could purchase a device that changes the signals to clear traffic for emergency responders, similar to what fire departments use.
       Construction would take a month to complete the necessary upgrades, with traffic maintained during the process. Merchant said if the reconfiguration doesn't work the county can restore it to four lanes.
       McLaughlin expressed support for three lanes, but Village President Mike Lee wasn't sold on the idea, saying it could hinder emergency situations or pedestrian crossing.
       "I'm feeling there are more positives to keeping the flow of traffic the way it is downtown," Lee said.
       Lee was also concerned about the position of the stop bar on E. St. Clair Street, saying it doesn't give enough room for large trucks to turn. Merchant said the county could re-evaluate the bar's placement.
       Signal designs
       The new signals would be similar to those at the 25 Mile Road and Van Dyke intersection. The upgrades will use black mast arms, an infrared stop-bar camera and an Intelligent Transportation System cabinet. A surveillance camera is proposed for the signal to monitor traffic.
       Eight pedestrian signals with push buttons and countdown signals would be installed, with two on each corner.
       Village Trustee Bob Hart questioned whether there were decorative options instead of the large mast arm poles.
       "We're talking about a historic community of 176 years, historic 100-plus year old buildings and massive poles," Hart said. "No one is really in favor of that."
       Merchant said there weren't any alternatives the county could provide, but the village could purchase decorative bases to install on the poles.
       Lee said decorative bases presented by the village's engineering firm, Hubbell, Roth and Clark, would cost about $2,500 each. Village officials said the bases could be a joint venture between the village and the Downtown Development Authority.
       Merchant said the larger poles are the standard from the Michigan Department of Transportation and are a sturdy structure that doesn't require inspections every two years.

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