MDOT plans roundabouts for M-40

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Department of Transportation says planned alterations to a stretch of M-40 south of I-196 in Holland could save lives.

Semi-trucks turning left onto M-40 from the Tulip City Truck Stop are the biggest risk, according to MDOT, and the agency has a plan to put a stop to those left turns.

MDOT traffic engineers think the best way to do that is to run a median curb down M-40 and put in a roundabout to turn trucks back north toward I-196.They would also build a second roundabout just off the freeway. They say the plan will slow traffic in front of the truck stop.

MDOT plans to put in two roundabouts on M-40 south of I-196 near Holland to slow traffic and reduce the number of crashes. (March 17, 2014)“Seems to be the best solution as far as solving some of those left turn crashes that have been serous or fatal in the past,” MDOT’s Pete Pfeiffer said.

Since 2007, four people have died when drivers ran into semi-trucks crossing the road during left turns. In 2007, Curtis Boeve, 38, and his 13-year-old son Zach and 4-year-old daughter Emma were killed in a wreck there. The most recent death was that of 30-year-old Joshua Hoppe — a teacher Hamilton Community Schools, where the surviving Boeve children go to school — in December 2013. His death led to an online petition calling for a traffic signal.

A photo of Joshua Hoppe, courtesy the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District.
(A photo of Joshua Hoppe, courtesy the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District.)

But MDOT determined a signal is not the best fix.

“There’s just not the volume coming out of that driveway that’s needed to place a traffic signal there,” Pfeiffer said.

After Hoppe’s death, MDOT audited the stretch of M-40 near the truck stop. Auditor said they noticed semi-trucks pulling into traffic even though there wasn’t enough space between cars.

“It was easy to see for them because when the trucks were taking a left out of that truck stop, you could see the brake lights on the northbound traffic of that traffic slowing considerably,” Pfeiffer said.

Irv and Sharon Boeve, Curtis Boeve’s parents, say they support efforts to fix the area.

“A life is worth it,” Sharon Boeve said.

MDOT wants to combine the left turn fix with other safety improvements further north, which are scheduled for completion in 2016 at a total cost of $5 million.

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