County pessimistic about funding for left turn lights in Allen Park

Photo by Sue Suchyta The intersection of Pelham and Ecorse roads, shown with vehicles turning left on yellow and red lights, is one of several intersections for which Councilman Harry Sisko hopes to convince Wayne County officials to add a green arrow left turn signal.

Photo by Sue Suchyta
The intersection of Pelham and Ecorse roads, shown with vehicles turning left on yellow and red lights, is one of several intersections for which Councilman Harry Sisko hopes to convince Wayne County officials to add a green arrow left turn signal.

 

Allen and Champaign, Pelham and Ecorse intersections are Sisko’s priorities

By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – Councilman Harry Sisko expressed frustration at the Oct. 10 City Council meeting that Eric Lentz, Wayne County Traffic Maintenance engineer doesn’t share his concern for left turn signal intersection upgrades.

Sisko said he and Police Chief James Wilkiewicz told County Commission Chairman Gary Woronchak in July that the intersections at Allen and Champaign roads and at Pelham and Ecorse roads need left turn arrow signals due to the traffic volume and proximity to schools, churches and businesses.

Sisko said that during school start and dismissal times the Allen and Champaign roads intersection is bad, and Wilkiewicz is concerned with the safety of the northbound Pelham at Ecorse intersection left turn.

They contend that the light at Ecorse and Pelham only allows one car northbound on Pelham to safely turn left onto westbound Ecorse before the signal turns red.

“There are tons of accidents all of the time,” Sisko said. “I volunteered to send a message to our County Commissioner Gary Woronchak.”

Woronchak’s executive assistant, Marianne Rea, contacted Lentz by email.

More than two months and two emails later, Lentz replied to Rea, and said the county does not have enough money to keep up with the demand for new projects for the 1,500 miles of roads and the more than 750 traffic signals under its jurisdiction.

Sisko read Lentz’s email response into the record, in which Lentz said Act 51 money distributed by the state does not allow the county to keep pace with current project demands.

Act 51 refers to Michigan Transportation funds that award money to state, county and local roads, some of which require matching funds from the area that is directly impacted.

Lentz said Wayne County relies on federal grants to supplement what it receives from the state to pay for capital improvements.

“DPS/Engineering is interested in modernizing the traffic signal at Pelham and Ecorse, along with all the other major intersections,” Lentz said in a Sept. 28 email to Rea. “They are exploring the possibility of applying for a safety grant.”

Lentz indicated that the grant program also has limited funds, which are sought by many Michigan road agencies.

“We are not guaranteed we will get the money necessary to modernize the signal, which can be very expensive,” Lentz said. “A left turn light cannot be done without replacing the entire signal. Therefore we need funding for this project.”

Lentz said his priority is on the intersections of two county roads, and since Champaign is an Allen Park and Taylor road, the signal at the intersection is not one that Wayne County is looking to modernize.

“As a maintainer on the DPS/Roads Division staff, all I can do is keep the existing system working at its best,” Lentz said. “With time and money, I know the signals will definitely be upgraded.”

Sisko said he has had residents call him expressing concern about the signal at the Allen and Champaign road intersection.

“We have a lot of parents trying to get their kids to school on time when they are short on time,” Sisko said. “I don’t know what else can be done, other than have everybody write a letter or send an email to Mr. Woronchak and Mr. Lentz, and give their opinion of what’s happening at these cross sections.”

To report a road hazard online, go to waynecounty.com/dps/complaint.htm. To contact Woronchak, send an email to gworonch@waynecounty.com or send traditional mail to him at 500 Griswold, 7th floor, Detroit MI, 48226.

Sisko asked for help from residents and the high school students attending the council meeting as part of their government class requirement.

“Just tell the truth,” he said. “That is all you have to do. I just wanted you to know that we do work on these things, and we get shut down at certain points, and then it takes a long time because government works really slowly. But we do the best we can and we are out there looking out for all the safety and concerns of our residents as we go forth.”

(Sue Suchyta can be reached at sue.suchyta@yahoo.com.)