WATS Announces Area’s Priority Intersections

Washtenaw Area Transportation Study (WATS) released a map yesterday showing intersections designated as “priority intersections” including several in the Dexter area.

Transportation Planner Suzann Flowers stated that “these areas are called out due to the frequency of certain types of crashes. These locations are meant to help the citizens of Washtenaw County talk to their local elected officials about the solutions that they propose to protect all users while traveling.

Ms. Flowers continued by stating that “when WATS issues a call for projects for the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRP) and Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) these locations should be given a higher consideration over other potential locations. One example of a known priority location is Baker Rd at Dan Hoey and Shield Rd. Turning movements and higher speed crashes, transitioning from the City speed limit to the higher posted speed, has created a safety priority location. With the efforts by WATS, WCRC, Scio Township, Dexter Community Schools and the City of Dexter, over $1.2 million dollars will be spent to improve these intersections. ”

Human error is the number one contributing factor in auto accidents but other factors include congestion, alternative transportation modes, and changing design standards eventually render infrastructure functionally outdated as an area develops.

Crashes are a critical indicator for transportation agencies when this happens. These high frequency traffic conflicts allow engineers and planners to identify problem areas.

WATS further stated on their website that “the process of using crash data to justify improvements, to mitigate human error, remains an important part of developing a safer roadway system. WATS uses crash location data, which has improved with time and technology, to identify problem road segments and intersections and provides this data to local safety engineers for problem solving.”

The map below shows locations identified as priority crash intersections and problem road segments based on five years of crash data.  The maps use a SEMCOG crash analysis which groups facilities by type, ranks them by crash frequency, and selects the top 5%.  WATS removed locations where only one crash occurred in the five year period.  This analysis is a high level data-based review, and is only meant to inform projects as they are developed, rather than dictate needs.  Each road segment is different, and there may be many confounding factors that lead to a higher crash rate on specific segments.

WATS is a multi-jurisdictional agency responsible for transportation planning in Washtenaw County. The agency is mandated by Federal law to provide a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive transportation planning process, which guides the expenditure of state and federal transportation funds in Washtenaw County.

WATS annually establishes project priorities for consideration by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) when programming transportation funds. In addition, WATS continually monitors the current condition of the county’s transportation system, including roads, bicycle and pedestrian paths, bridges, and public transit.

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