Street marking confuses local drivers

REED CITY — It’s a mess.

Unclear and often non-existent traffic lines on Chestnut Street are confusing many drivers passing through town.

The road lines will be redone in the spring, but until then city officials urge drivers to use caution.

“I encourage drivers to slow down and pay attention to where they are,” said Reed City Manager Ron Marek. “It’s kind of confusing right now, but we are going to change this.”

When the Michigan Department of Transportation converted the road from four directional lanes to three — two directional and a turning lane — in the fall, the contractor’s crew tarred over the existing lines and painted new lines. Weather conditions at the time of the project were not favorable.

“They had just finished (lining) and it downpoured,” said Reed City Police Chief Chuck Davis.

MDOT painted the lines temporarily with the expectation of redoing the lines permanently in the fall, but they did not expect the lines to wear off this fast, Davis said.

Reed City resident Mary Clark lives on Chestnut Street and said she has witnessed many cars driving in the turn lane as if it were a second lane.

“I’m surprised there haven’t been more accidents,” Clark said.

She said when the road lines are covered with snow, the confusion is even worse.

“Having no snow has helped,” Marek said. “But there’s nothing (MDOT) can do until the weather warms up.”

Davis said MDOT plans to tar over the old lines and more permanently paint the new lines in the spring. If the project is done on a dry, hot day, he said, the lines will last for a much longer time.

The city made the decision to change the road to a three-lane road after MDOT removed the stoplight on the corner of Upton and Chestnut due to low traffic at the intersection. Prior to the light removal, the speed limit had been changed from 30 to 35 mph and the city was concerned with high speeds of traffic coming from U.S. 10.

“With single-directional lanes you can only go as fast as the person in front of you,” Davis said.

The main concern for the city was the safety of pedestrians crossing the street, especially students using the crosswalk after school. After talking with crossing guards and MDOT, it was decided that a three-lane road would be safer for pedestrians by decreasing driver speed.

“Since we did that, we have only had a couple speeding tickets,” Davis said.

The spacing of lines on the now three-lane road allows for a wider than normal turn lane which accommodates semi trucks, such as those turning into the Yoplait plant, Davis said. A three foot space was also created on each side of the road, not as a bicycle lane, Davis said, but as an area for extra caution.

Davis said the city will not issue any citations for drivers who do not use the correct lines at this time, and there have been no accidents as a result of the confusion.

Chestnut Street is tentatively slated for completed reconstruction in 2017.