HOLLAND, Mich. -- A project meant strictly to solve a safety problem has been completed on M-40 south of I-196. Now we have to wait and see if truck drivers pick up on the new way to get out of the Tulip City Truck Stop.
In the past, semi rigs pulled out of the truck stop lot from the business driveway, turning right or left. But it takes a full 11 seconds for a rig to complete the left turn. That doesn't seem like a long time, but it's long enough for drivers over the years to run into trailers at highway speeds. Crashes like that killed three family members in 2007 and a Hamilton High School teacher in 2013. In July 2015, a woman walked away from a similar crash, though her car was demolished.
Several solutions for the problem were floated over the years, including roundabouts, which nobody liked, said Michigan Department of Transportation spokesperson Nick Shirripa. Aside the high cost, the idea required some backtracking for drivers leaving the truck stop.
The final solution: an access driveway leads the trucks to a new traffic signal at Interchange Drive, several hundred feet south of I-196. Semi drivers can use the traffic light to make a left turn onto northbound M-40, reducing the hazard of high speed traffic and lumbering semi rigs coming together.
Trucks are prohibited from access to M-40 from the Tulip City Truck Stop lots, though smaller vehicles will be allowed a right turn onto southbound M-40.
There is a learning curve, however. On the first day of the new traffic flow, it was common to see rigs making the old familiar left turn across traffic to northbound M-40. The drivers apparently didn't notice the new "Wrong Way" signs.