Since we've been down here in West Michigan, and during the nearly 20 years of commuting to WMU, M-11 Wilson Avenue between M-45 Lake Michigan Drive and M-11 28th Street has been something of a bottleneck. Originally just a two-lane country highway connecting two five-lane roads, they've never just come out and widened it. Instead, there've been fits and stabs at adding a turn lane here, a wider shoulder here, a flare lane to get around stopped traffic trying to turn there.
This summer's project has been to add a center turn lane and widened side turn lanes for a stretch near Riverbend Road. There's a couple of schools there, so this should really be a good safety move.
Of course there's still a weird dip in the two-lane part north of there which I fear is due to a drainage problem. We're near the Grand River, and there's some black earth bottom land farming here, with periodic flooding and ponding and high water. Maybe that's next year. (grin)
Once A Week For Now
I've started going in to the office once a week for some office hours and to take care of things. Take in a colloquium when there's one. Let the department know I still exist. (grin) Even with the summer construction season winding down, a once-a-week trip shows up changes. I thought they were completely done with messing with Wilson Avenue, but as I was heading down today, I came up the hill to the light at Burton Avenue south of where the construction zone had been and took my foot off the gas as I usually do.
But there wasn't the Speed Limit 45 Ahead sign on the downside of the hill. In fact the reduced speed zone warning sign didn't even show up until after the curve just before the Grand River crossing. I glanced the other way and saw the Speed Limit 55 sign there.
Well that's interesting. See, it used to be that heading north after I-196/28th Street, you'd have this big sweeping curve with two lanes going up the hill and one lane coming down. But the speed limit was 45 and didn't go to 55 until after the curve northbound. So a lot of people couldn't stand to wait that long and so sped up earlier. What made it more difficult was that effectively the right lane turns into a hill lane and that by the time you get up to Burton Street, you lose the right lane on the downside of the hill past the light. Then right when you've got a mix of different speeds and you can finally see over the hill, you hit a school zone and have people merging from right to left. Nothing could possibly go wrong with this, right?
It was even worse during the construction, because you had this 45mph construction zone, plus the sometimes 40mph school zone, plus people wanting to speed back up to 55 -- and then southbound, just a couple hundred yards after you back up to 55 you have to slow down for a 45mph speed limit. Now that change to 45 is moved around the curve, which just makes more sense. Especially since you're not going to get people to slow down to 45 any earlier. (evil grin)
We'll see how this works in the wintertime with ice on the hill. You get these terrible accidents, but I think they're caused as much by that weird mix of speed zones than just driving too fast. With one speed zone all the way up the hill, maybe people will behave better rather than thinking Someone Is Slowing Me Down I Must Blow Past Them And Swerve Between Lanes Because I Think Wilson Avenue Is Part Of NASCAR And Because NASCAR Is Southern I Have Forgotten That I Am Driving On A Sheet Of Ice Oops...