BERLIN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - There has been more than one deadly crash at the rural Ionia intersection of Jordan Lake and Portland roads. The latest crash claimed the life of a 16-year-old male early Sunday morning.
Now, people in the Berlin Township neighborhood want to see something done about it.
An engineer from the Ionia County Road Commission told 24 Hour News 8 that the road commission has known about this problem intersection for years and has taken steps in the last 12 years to try make it more safe.
But after Sunday's crash, it's back to the drawing board.
The problem is the stop sign on Portland Road. It's in the middle of nowhere, and before drivers get to it, the rural drive is long and flat for miles.
"A lot of people that aren't familiar with it just get asleep at the wheel and go right through it," said resident Dan Barbour. "It's a bad deal."
Barbour has lived in the area for more than 50 years. When he heard the sirens Sunday morning, he knew it wasn't good.
"And then Aero Med came through, and when they came in I knew it was a serious thing, so I knew it was pretty bad," said Barbour.
According to the Michigan State Police, a car failed to stop at the sign and hit a truck with five people inside, including a 16-year-old male who was ejected and killed.
Three more people were injured and pinned in the truck after it rolled. They are expected to recover.
Engineers with the Ionia County Road Commission have known about the problem intersection for years.
There have been four deadly crashes there in the past 10 years: one in 2002, one 2008, one in 2010, and the Sunday wreck.
The county had previously installed two sets of rumble strips just before the stop sign.
"This was going to be an experiment in order to try and enhance the awareness that the motorist is coming up upon a stop situation," explained Wayne Schoonover, an engineer with the road commission.
Some say that experiment worked pretty well.
"When they first put the rumble strips in, I thought it was a good thing to do because it got your attention before you got to the corner," said Barbour.
But after years of study, the safety data just didn't measure up to the cost of maintenance. And there was another issue with the strips.
"People will actually drive into the opposing lane to drive around them," said Schoonover.
That created a bigger safety problem, so the strips were scrapped and left to wear down.
So now it's back to the drawing board, but the county isn't giving up. Shoonover said the road commission is looking for solutions to "provide for safer routes for our traveling public."
The road commission is applying for more safety funding from the state and says the intersection of Portland and Jordan Lake will be a top priority.
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