Proos highlights Berrien County as outlier in I-94 road safety report

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Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. Sen. John Proos applauded the I-94 road safety audit findings and recommendations announced on Monday by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Michigan State Police.

The audit was conducted on the stretch of Interstate 94 from the Michigan-Indiana border to the city of Jackson following a historic pileup that occurred Jan. 9.

“During a winter storm in January, nearly 200 cars and trucks were involved in a tragic pileup that killed one driver, injured nearly two dozen more and closed the freeway for two days,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “We owe it to every Southwest Michigan family, job providers and visitors that they are as safe as possible on our roads.

“I want to thank Senator Margaret O’Brien and the governor for their vigilance in calling for the study, and thank the state police and highway officials for working together to complete an exhaustive study of all of I-94 for the safety of the families that live in Southwest Michigan.”

State officials ordered the audit last February after O’Brien petitioned Gov. Rick Snyder to request MDOT to study the stretch of I-94 where the pileup occurred and offer possible recommendations for the highway. The safety review was expanded to143 miles of I-94 from the Michigan-Indiana border to Jackson due to MDOT’s concern with the occurrence of major crashes in the prior year.

“The crash numbers in Southwest Michigan along I-94 are alarming,” Proos said. “From 2012 to 2014, there were 1,840 crashes on this highway in Berrien County alone — resulting in 287 injuries and seven deaths. This included an 80-vehicle pileup in February 2013 on I-94, from mile marker 34 near Benton Township to exit 39 in Coloma, which left one person dead and 47 people injured.

“As a result of this information, the state has offered a mix of both conventional and innovative fixes, some of which are already underway.”

One of the recommendations included installing Intelligent Transportation Systems to provide weather-related messages, road conditions and variable speed limits. An ITS infrastructure project under construction, installing 18 cameras along the I-94 corridor with 12 of the cameras in Berrien County.

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Editor’s note: The full 94-page audit may be downloaded by clicking this link.