‘Hot mess’: New Michigan St. lanes confuse drivers

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Changes to the lanes on Michigan Street NE in Grand Rapids confused many drivers on the first business day after they were made.

In an effort to relieve congestion, the city changed one of the through-lanes on eastbound Michigan Street at College Avenue to a left turn only lane. The goal was to allow more drivers to turn at a time onto northbound College toward the highway. Only one lane remains for eastbound drivers going straight or turning right.

michigan street lane change sign
A sign shows new lane assignments on eastbound Michigan Street at College Avenue NE. (Oct. 7, 2019)

Immediately east of the intersection, eastbound traffic was reduced to one lane.

Signs and road markings indicated the changes, but that didn’t seem to help many drivers Monday. They appeared to be operating out of habit, going straight through the intersection from the new left turn lane and cutting off other cars as they merged.

Other drivers turning left onto northbound College apparently didn’t realize a second lane of cars was turning, too. They cut off drivers while pulling into the far lane.

Frustrated drivers honked at seemingly every cycle of the traffic light as motorists incorrectly navigated the intersection.

“It’s just going to be a mess, a hot mess,” Brenda Faber, an employee at Curtis Cleaners on the corner of Michigan and College, told News 8.

She said she had listened to cars honking their horns and watched close calls all day.

“Accidents,” she said. “There will be accidents unless people are cautious in regards to what they’re doing and they’re not.”

She did not see any crashes Monday.

Grand Rapids city officials said the changes were made after the community asked for help in decreasing congestion and increasing safety.

Officials added parking along Michigan east of College, bringing traffic down to one lane. A continuous center turn lane was also added. The timing of the traffic signals at College, Eastern and Diamond avenues was modified, city leaders reported

“Just hope everybody starts paying attention to what’s on the road,” Faber said. “Hopefully no one gets hurt.”

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