ROGERS CITY - Drivers in downtown Rogers City may notice a change and a slightly shorter wait at the intersection of Erie and Third streets.
The Michigan Department of Transportation has switched the traffic signal there over to a four-way flashing red light. It's part of an evaluation into whether traffic volumes justify having a traffic signal there, Michigan Department of Transportation Alpena Traffic Service Center Traffic and Safety Engineer Steve Conradson said. A crew made the change Tuesday, and it'll stay that way for 90 to 120 days.
"We're going to see how it operates, and we're going to look at traffic patterns and conduct some traffic counts later this summer," he said.
MDOT will look at crash data and see if the four-way stop is causing any new accidents or delays, Conradson said. They want to find out if a 2007 independent study to determine the same things and the 2012 follow-up traffic counts are correct. The original study was to determine if the traffic light's timings were correct, and both the study and follow-up showed the light wasn't warranted.
After discussing the move with the city, its police department and the Presque Isle County Sheriff's Department, MDOT opted to make the intersection a four-way stop rather than letting Third Street traffic flow through, Conradson said. Two of the buildings at the intersection are close to the road and block the view of cross traffic, and drivers weren't always yielding to pedestrians like they should have been.
"Now, all motorists have to stop and it's going to be a much safer environment for pedestrians," Rogers City Police Chief Matt Quaine said.
On the third day after the change, Quaine said he'd heard no traffic-related complaints about the four-way stop. He isn't anticipating any either, although it'll take some getting used to for local drivers. There have been complaints of the sentimental variety, though, ever since MDOT announced it was going to evaluate the traffic light's necessity.
The study will likely run a little longer than 90 days, Conradson said. There will be a short construction project on Business Route 23 near M-68, and he doesn't want that skewing the results. From there, MDOT will review the data and move forward on the decision-making process.
For now, a four-way stop seems like a good fit for the intersection, Conradson said.
"It's in a downtown area, it's not high-speed," he said. "It just kind of lends itself to that naturally, just looking at it."