Sixth Street intersection sees traffic light upgrades

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette MDOT has made several changes to the intersection of U.S. 41, Sixth Street, and Lake Linden Avenue, including changing left and right turn lanes, and traffic light upgrades, including box-stand traffic lights located at eye level on the sides of the streets to increase signal visibility.

CALUMET TOWNSHIP — The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has made a number of changes and upgrades to the intersection of U.S. 41, Sixth Street and Lake Linden Avenue, which include updating signal lights and change lanes.

The right lane of Sixth Street approach to U.S. 41 previously was used for proceeding straight or turning right, and the left lane was left turn only. With the new configuration, the right lane is now right turn only, and the left lane indicates proceeding straight onto Lake Linden Avenue, or left turn onto U.S. 41.

Joel Kauppila, traffic and safety engineer with M-DOT said the changing of the lane was to bring the intersection into conformity of what is normal at traffic signal stops.

“The way the intersection was set up is extremely rare,” Kauppila said. “I think there’s one downstate, and there’s one in Escanaba.”

He said the decision to make the change was the result of calls his office had received from motorists, including the Houghton County Road Commission.

In addition to the lane changes, MDOT also upgraded the traffic lights at the intersection, which includes signal lights on posts on the side of the street.

“We have it there for better visibility,” Kauppila said. “We upgraded five signals throughout our five-county district office. Every so often the time comes up when signals have to be changed, upgraded and modernized, and bring them up to current standards, and the box stand is the current standard.”

Calumet Township Supervisor Paul Lehto said the only complaint he has heard in regard to the new lanes is that people turning left often do not have enough time to proceed forward and make the left turn before the light turns red again.

Lehto said when MDOT installed the traffic lights on the intersection of U.S. 41 and School Street several years ago, they asked the school, the township and several other people what they should do, how long the time should take between green and red, and a host of other questions.

“But on Sixth Street, I can honestly tell you nobody asked one thing,” he said. “They just showed up and start putting lights in there, whenever they did that. There was no asking the township, no asking anybody else.”