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US-41, Lakeshore Drive intersection to upgrade signal starting June 18

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ISHPEMING - The Michigan Department of Transportation will begin a $45,000 project Monday to upgrade the traffic signal at US-41 and Lakeshore Drive.

The one-week project is to make the lights more noticeable, adding reflective backplates, adding an additional signal head for eastbound and westbound traffic and adding a left-turn signal.

There have been ten accidents at the intersection of US-41 and Lakeshore Drive in Ishpeming this year. The increase in accidents has prompted the Michigan Department of Transportation to take action.

"We would call this a higher crash intersection," said Dan Weingarten, Communications Representative with MDOT. "There's definitely been a history of different types of crashes at this intersection over the years. At this particular intersection we've seen crashes primarily due to people ignoring the signal, going through the signal when they shouldn't, or also making a left turn when there's oncoming traffic."

Of the ten accidents at the intersection, 20 vehicles were involved with six people injured. MDOT says lowering the speed limit in the area will not necessarily help prevent accidents.

"They're related to motorists not paying attention to the signal or, for some reason, not seeing the signal," said Weingarten. "It's not necessarily something that could be mitigated by a speed limit change."

There's even been the idea of constructing a roundabout at the intersection. There have been a number of roundabouts constructed across downtown Ishpeming to ease the flow of traffic.

"My understanding is that we are on a list for a possible roundabout at this location but it may be several years down the road," said Steven Snowaert, Ishpeming Police Chief.

Weingarten said, "That's something that we're definitely looking at. We had actually applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation for funding for construction of a roundabout in 2021. The grant that we were hoping to get did not materialize."

Weingarten said MDOT has been able to secure part of the funding for a roundabout and are tentatively looking at construction in 2023.

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