HOLLAND, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Transporation (MDOT) rolled out three options to improve the safety of M-40 near the Tulip City Truck Stop and I-196, a highway location that has claimed the lives of four people in the last seven years.
In December, Joshua Hoppe, 30, of Zeeland, was killed when his car was trapped under a semi while on his way to Hamilton High School where he was a teacher. In 2007, a crash killed Curt Boeve and his two kids, Zachary and Emma, when their van hit a semi. Additionally, there have been man non-fatal and non-injury crashes at the truck stop over the years on M-40 both south of I-196 and north of the freeway.
“I feel bad, really bad for what happened,” said Glen Rutgers, who nearly lost his then 19-year-old son in a crash in August 2012. “I just hope that we can get something taken care of very, very quickly, so we won’t have another major tragedy in this area again.” Rutgers told FOX 17 his son pulled in front of a truck and was struck on the driver’s side of his car when he was leaving the McDonald’s on M-40 north of I-196. “He was severely injured--traumatic brain injury--and was in a coma for about three weeks at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids."
Rutgers said he has a vested interest in the three options MDOT proposed to change the highway in hopes that no family has to suffer any more loss.
M-40 near I-196 and Interchange Drive will undergo major construction beginning 2016, said MDOT Transportation Service Center Manager Pete Pfeiffer.
“We’re going after it hard,” said Pfeiffer. “You know, this isn’t an easy solution here at this location. It’s really difficult to solve. There are a lot of parties that have a part in here: the city of Holland, all of the motorists that use M-40, the residents in this area, as well as the businesses. It’s taken us a little while to reach this point to bring some options to the table.”
MDOT’s first proposed solution involves building two roundabouts near Tulip City Truck Stop at a cost of $4 million. Second, MDOT proposed a combination of installing a traffic signal at Interchange Drive and M-40 and closing off truck access at the truck stop’s southern driveway, which would cost $1 million. That option would prevent semi's from entering the highway from the truck stop. The third option is relocating Interchange Drive to the south, installing a traffic signal, and closing truck access at the southern drive of the truck stop, costing $2 million.
Many local drivers agree that it’s time to make some major changes.
“I hope there’s no more lives taken from this spot here, it really needs to be looked at,” said Dave Charles, of Holland. “If it was your family, you’d feel the same way.”
Pfeiffer said MDOT does not have any future public meetings scheduled regarding the M-40 proposals, but he reiterated that MDOT is taking public feedback into consideration.