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The city and Bronson Battle Creek Hospital have attempted for a long time to make the intersection of Emmett Street and North Avenue safer for pedestrians, while maintaining the intersection's level of service. This is an extraordinary challenge, due to the off-site hospital employee parking, which generates an abundance of pedestrian trips at several different times throughout the day and night.
In addition, the intersection handles about 23,000 vehicles per day, along with the majority of hospital emergency room traffic.
City and Bronson staff met in January 2017 to discuss intersection safety. Following that meeting, the current "no turn on red" prohibition for all legs of the intersection was installed, and a new, mid-block crosswalk was installed at Emmett and College streets. Both of these improvements were in place at the time of a fatal crash at the intersection in October 2018.
This is a rendering of the proposed design:
In December 2018, the city hired OHM Advisors to perform a Road Safety Audit (RSA) at the intersection. An RSA is a formal safety performance examination of an existing intersection by an independent, multi-disciplinary team.
OHM presented the final report to the city and Bronson, with several short-term and long-term suggested improvements.
The city has implemented many of the short-term improvements – sign reduction and sign placement improvements, bus stop relocation, and traffic signal back plate installation. The city funded these changes through the normal traffic signal maintenance fund.
We still plan to make pavement marking upgrades, and a signal timing modification that will give pedestrians a head start, while all other phases sit at a red signal.
Currently at the intersection of Emmett Street and North Avenue:
Roundabout intersections are a growing trend that have demonstrated overall safety improvements. Advantages at the Emmett Street and North Avenue intersection are:
Some studies state that crash volumes have increased at roundabout intersections.
This is often true, but a closer look at the statistics shows that the overall benefits of a roundabout intersection include a massive reduction -- or elimination -- of accidents involving injury or death.
This is a trade-off we must consider to reach a goal of zero fatal accidents at the intersection. Currently, accidents at this intersection have resulted in one fatality, and one serious injury.
Unlike the Sprinkle Road roundabout, the proposed design for Emmett Street and North Avenue would be smaller, and only maintain a single lane of traffic. This design will force drivers to slow down, which has demonstrated that more cars yield to pedestrians. The slower the vehicles travel, the more likely they are to yield.
The roundabout in Marshall is much larger than the proposed roundabout at Emmett and North. The larger diameter and vehicle trail lanes make drivers more comfortable driving at higher speeds. This roundabout also allows pedestrians to cross into the center of the circle to visit the fountain in four separate locations, which causes two problems -- drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians, causing a crash; and drivers who do yield, which causes the roundabout to not operate properly. The proposed design at Emmett/North will only permit crossing a minimum of two car lengths outside the roundabout, to allow for yielding driver stacking, which then allows the roundabout to remain in operation.
In the proposed roundabout design, a pedestrian would encounter a safer scenario than what currently exists:
Currently, the intersection has a fair number of jaywalkers, crossing at points further away from the Emmett/North intersection. When asked why, the pedestrians stated that they felt safer crossing this way. The roundabout crosswalks would be positioned in similar areas, a distance away from the roundabout.
This setup allows drivers and pedestrians more time to recognize each other than 90-degree angles at a typical intersection.
The total cost would be approximately $1 million.
The proposed roundabout is eligible for two different grant programs. The city already has secured a $250,000 Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant for the project. We can submit a safety grant application in August to request $600,000 from the Michigan Department of Transportation. This means the city would need $150,000 from our normal road program funds.
This project also will reduce the city's traffic signal operations cost.
City staff have considered a pedestrian tunnel and bridge, but neither is a feasible solution at this intersection.
A tunnel is not feasible due to the current ground water table in the area.
A bridge is not feasible for the following reasons:
Call the city's Engineering Division, at 269-966-3343. You can email the city at PublicInput@battlecreekmi.gov.