MDOT studies impact of three-lane road on US-12

Closure between New Buffalo and Indiana state line
Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 7:02 PM EDT
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NEW BUFFALO, Mich. (WNDU) - If you’re traveling on US-12 in between New Buffalo and the Indiana state line, you’ll notice the lanes go down from four to three.

16 News Now tells us why the Michigan Department of Transportation is testing out a three-lane road.

In order to test how well a three-lane road would work here between New Buffalo and the border of Indiana, MDOT took out a lane on US-12, but not everybody's onboard.

"I know it's just the trial road diet, but it's very dangerous out there. I've heard from so many people who have almost been hit head-on," said nearby resident Mary Robertson.

The trial road diet didn't receive many good reviews from residents during a special New Buffalo Township Board meeting.

"I think you're going to have slow-moving traffic, people are going to be tempted to use that center lane. I think you got a dangerous situation there," said New Buffalo Township Board Member Pete Rahm.

Proponents of the idea say cutting down a lane will make things safer because of reduced speeds and turning.

A diagram shared with us by the Friends of Berrien County Trails shows half as many points of conflict with a three-lane road as opposed to one with four lanes.

Nation-wide studies show 19% to 47% fewer crashes on three-lane roads compared with four-lane roads.

Turning lanes expect to make emergency response times easier.

"In a four-lane road you have people on the inside or 'fast lane' stopping turn left, and then people coming up behind them and not seeing them in time to move around them. So it's a safer road and of course, it costs less to maintain three lanes instead of four," said Friends of Berrien County Trails Board member J.B. Hoyt.

It will be up to MDOT whether or not to officially cut down to three lanes.

The study is expected to wrap up in July. That's when the MDOT will be able to take the data to make a decision.

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