Roundabout rejected, Battle Creek looks for other safety solutions

Local News

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — City leaders in Battle Creek are looking for new solutions to improve safety at a busy intersection with a history of serious accidents.

The city commission decided at an April meeting to not move forward with a plan to build a roundabout near Bronson Battle Creek hospital at the North Avenue and West Emmett Street intersection.

Carl Fedders, the director of public works, says two grants would have paid for most of the project.

“It was about a million dollars’ worth of actual construction costs,” he said. “We had secured $600,000 from a safety grant and $250,000 form a congestion mitigation air quality grant.”

Fedders said the department is working to use the air quality grant on a busing project instead but the safety grant cannot be transferred.

“We heard a lot of opposition to the project,” Fedders said. “One of the things we heard from the public was enforcement of the rules we have in place.”

He said the city is always looking for ways to improve safety, whether that be changes to crossings or better lighting, and that this particular intersection is on the city’s radar for improvements.

“It’s one of our busiest intersections for vehicles and for pedestrians, which makes safety a big concern of ours,” Fedders said.

The intersection at North Avenue and West Emmett Street in Battle Creek, where adding a roundabout has been proposed. (May 13, 2021)

Jeff Slaby visits nearby Irving Park often and hopes city leaders will reconsider putting a roundabout at that location in the future.

“I go through here two or three times a day from different directions and it can be stressful and dangerous, especially when you’re making a left turn,” Slaby said.

He also sees a roundabout project as a way to improve the entrance to the park in the process.

His daughter Jaqueline Slaby has a master’s degree in sustainable transportation infrastructure. She said roundabouts dramatically improve safety for drivers and pedestrians.

“It allows people whether they’re seniors, disabled, or children to be able to cross the streets more easily because they reduce the width of the street,” Jaqueline Slaby said.

She said more needs to be done to educate people about the effect roundabouts can have and how they more effectively manage traffic flow.

“It can be harder for people to kind of be open to the data and understand the benefits of something when it’s new,” Jaqueline Slaby said.

Bronson Healthcare issued a statement in response to the decision to not move forward with a roundabout:

“Bronson has a great working relationship with the City of Battle Creek and we look forward to continuing that partnership to make sure safety is a priority at that intersection,” the statement said.

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