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Rogers City amping up safety measures at key intersection

News Photo by Julie Riddle The intersection of Third Street and Erie Street in Rogers City is seen here on Tuesday evening.

The City of Rogers City and the Michigan Department of Transportation are taking measures to help ensure the safety of pedestrians and motorists using a busy intersection downtown.

Mayor Scott McLennan said the city had approached the regional MDOT office in Alpena and it has agreed to have painted crosswalks, also known as piano key markers, placed at all four pedestrian right-of-ways at the intersection of Third Street and Erie Street.

They are expected to be installed before winter.

McLennan said about three years ago the state, which dictates changes to the two streets because they are considered part of the state trunkline, turned off the flashing red and yellow light. It made the intersection a four-way-stop, which has somewhat confused drivers and pedestrians as to when it is safe to proceed to one side of the street to the other.

Erie Street is a business loop for M-68, while Third Street is considered a portion of U.S. 23.

He said there are many students who cross Erie and Third streets to go to and from school, shoppers who are visiting downtown, and seniors.

“Right now it is very difficult for drivers and pedestrians,” he said. “You have cars coming from four different directions, and they get confused about who is going to move or turn first. This will change the dynamics of the intersection and make it easier for pedestrians to cross and for drivers to see them.”

McLennan said two weeks ago there was a close call when a man got sideswiped by an automobile, but was unhurt. He said it was a close call and everyone involved is lucky the incident didn’t turn tragic.

“He wasn’t injured, but it was scary because it could have ended very badly,” he said. “We don’t really have a speeding issue in that area, but we are seeing drivers who aren’t aware or seeing pedestrians, so this should help a lot.”

Because the crosswalks are painted, they won’t always be visible to pedestrians or drivers in the winter months, when snow and ice often cover the streets. McLennan said that is not ideal, but other measures could be taken down the road. He added there are fewer people walking in the downtown area in the winter, too.

“Anything we do has to go through the state for those streets, but we are thankful for the support MDOT has given us,” he said. “We have a good relationship with the administrators in Alpena and appreciate the help they have given us.”

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