GRATIOT COUNTY (WJRT) - (12/3/18) - The Michigan Department of Transportation closed what many consider a dangerous Gratiot County intersection.
Monday morning MDOT crews installed traffic barriers along Bagley Road at US-127 in North Star Township, just outside of Ithaca.
In the past eight years Sheriff Doug Wright estimates there have been 30-40 serious crashes at the angled intersection.
A deadly crash in October sped up planned changes to the intersection.
James Jesselaitis, an off-duty firefighter from Saginaw County's Richland Township, died in a two car crash at the intersection. He was on his way to work.
Jesselaitis was trying to cross the divided highway using an angled road that runs between the two sides when his car was struck. The other driver was not seriously hurt.
"This project has been in the works for a couple years now, but due to a recent crash here we decided to implement it right now. There's no reason why we can't move forward and close this, at least with temporary traffic control devices, until we can do the permanent construction," said David Hoeh, the operations manager at MDOT's Mt. Pleasant Transportation Service Center.
Hoeh said federal funding has been secured for a permanent fix, but the project wasn't slated to take place until 2020.
The permanent fix will involve removing part of Bagley Road and creating a cul-de-sac.
Hoeh said while the change will take some getting used to the new route will only add a couple minutes to someone's drive.
"Instead of allowing people to cut through to take Washington Road, now we're directing them to the Washington Road interchange. Just pay attention to the signs," Hoeh said. "You pay attention to the signs, they'll take you where you get to go."
A construction schedule for 2020 has not been determined just yet, but Hoeh said this project may begin in the spring of that year.