S. Haven bans left turns to ease Lake MI traffic jams

Southwest Michigan

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — Visitors to South Haven may be in for a surprise this summer: Left turns are temporarily banned on the city’s main thoroughfare.

On Monday, city workers installed “no left turn” signs along westbound Phoenix Street at Center and Kalamazoo streets. They will remain up for 90 days, the maximum period of time a traffic control order can remain in effect.

South Haven Director of Public Works Bill Hunter told 24 Hour News 8 the downtown area averages more than 13,500 cars per day in June. He said his office received several complaints that drivers waiting to turn left were clogging traffic during the city’s peak travel season.

“People would have to wait to maybe three or four cycles of lights before they can even get through the intersection. That’s a long period of time,” Hunter said.

Now, drivers downtown will have to make three rights instead of turning left.

Hunter said the city tried out the temporary signs last year instead of conducting a traffic study. Officials believe the new rule kept traffic flowing and reduced the number of pedestrians weaving between waiting cars.

“Reducing the stacking (of cars) is improving the safety as well as just keeping the traffic flowing,” Hunter explained.

Next month, Hunter will present a traffic order to the city’s planning commission that would allow for permanent installation of the signs, though they would only be in effect on a seasonal basis.

If the planning commission and then city council approve the order, new signs would go up.

“Once that is in place, we will now look at putting up electronic ones that we don’t have to take on and off,” he said.

Hunter explained that having electronic signs would allow the city to activate the traffic change only during busy travel times.

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