The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Bessemer survey to revisit three-lane highway



Bessemer — The city of Bessemer is sending out a survey with the monthly water bills on Feb. 28 to get the pulse of the city on two topics of interest, according to City Manager Charly Loper.

One topic is the medical marijuana licensing issue and the other involves a potential traffic change to U.S. 2, available in 2021.

Everyone receiving a water bill will have the opportunity to make his or her voice heard, to be included in the five-year city master plan.

For a recent example to consider, the city of Ashland elected to go through a “road diet,” which is the changing of lanes to make them more restrictive size-wise, while incorporating turn lanes and expansion of the sidewalk buffer for greater curb appeal. The shrinking of roadway is designed to make the driver feel more restricted and therefore drive at a slower and more safe speed, according to April Kroner, director of planning and development in Ashland.

Michigan Department of Transportation had a trial reduction several years ago in Bessemer to three lanes, with mixed results. While some people said they felt safer with three lanes, especially bus drivers and semi trucks that have to make left turns, others felt the slightly longer time required to make left turns was prohibitive.

Loper provides facts regarding a change to three lanes from four:

—Three lanes of traffic are safer because people are not clogging the left-hand lane to make left turns.

—There are fewer incidents of side-swipe accidents from lane changes.

—Under MDOT’s determination, Bessemer does not have enough traffic to warrant four travel lanes, noting there is an increase in travel time with the lane change, but it is insignificant.

—On average, cars drive slower with three lanes than four.

Loper said with a change to three lanes, the city would have an increased ability to make the sidewalks safer for pedestrians, while also accessing state funds to “dramatically improve the appearance of our town.”

State funds in 2021 are available with the potential lane change to improve the appearance of Bessemer through improved landscaping and signage. Another benefit Loper mentions is the ability to lessen the frequency and likelihood of pedestrians being splashed with water or snow by traffic.


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