What warrants a four-way stop? Residents consider intersection deadly


This crash at 15 Mile and Shaner on June 7 involved 11 people, with one airlifted to the hospital with a head injury. The eastbound car stopped at the stop sign on 15 Mile and then pulled out in front of the Durango that was heading north on Shaner. Post photo by J. REED

A serious accident at the intersection of 15 Mile Road and Shaner Avenue on June 7 in Courtland Township have neighbors wondering what it will take to get a four-way stop put in.

“Does someone have to die?” asked Sharon Parker, a neighbor who was at the scene of the crash, and helped lift the SUV off of a teen pinned underneath the tire.

Several people have complained to the Cedar Springs Post that it is hard to see at the intersection if you are traveling on 15 Mile. But does that warrant a four-way stop?

According to data on the Kent County Road Commission website, traffic volume in the area has grown little over the last several years, and sees about 2,000 cars in a 24-hour period. That’s two-way traffic, so could be 1,000 cars going then coming home. Traffic counts have actually dropped on 15 Mile through that area, between 2005 and 2008, and increased only slightly on Shaner.

Tim Haagsma, P.E., director of traffic and safety at the Kent County Road Commission, said that they have to follow a manual put out by the federal government called the Public Manual of Safety Control Devices, when gauging whether an intersection warrants a four-way stop. “We look at both traffic volumes and crash rates,” he explained, “and they have less than one-third of the number of crashes needed.”

He went on to say that according to their data, there were three crashes reported at that intersection between 2005 and 2010, and what would warrant a four-way stop would be five crashes in a 12-month period.

“That intersection is not near the rate where we’d say a problem occurs,” noted Haagsma.

He said that following federal guidelines helps eliminate a proliferation of four-way stops where they could do more harm than good. Haagsma noted that while a four-way stop would reduce right-angle crashes, it would lead to more rear-end crashes. “We always have to look at the trade-off,” he said.

But Parker would like to see the guidelines changed, and she is asking concerned residents to call Senator Mark Jansen’s office at (517) 373-0797. “Maybe if enough people call, we can get it changed,” she said.

Parker also had a request for all the neighbors that go through there. “Slow down! It could be your child next time.”


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