Traffic circle, safety features planned for street where WMU student was killed
KALAMAZOO, MI — The city of Kalamazoo is planning to install a new traffic circle, among other safety improvements at an intersection near Western Michigan University.
Thousands of people have pushed for changes here via a petition, after two students died in the area in 2021 after being hit by vehicles.
The $475,000 project is scheduled to begin next month and wrap up in August, the city said.
A mini traffic circle will be installed at the intersection of California Avenue and Fraternity Village Drive. Porous Pave — a rain permeable surface — will be added to the center of the traffic circle and near sidewalks to prevent the area from getting muddy, but still allow water to drain through.
There will also be pedestrian safety improvements on Fraternity Village Drive
New lighting will be added and existing lights will be brought to current standards, the city said.
Sidewalk is being added to create a continuous path around the loop at the cul-de-sac of Fraternity Village Drive and back to West Michigan Avenue, city of Kalamazoo Traffic Engineer Dennis Randolph said. Some of that work has already happened.
Two solar-powered speed radar signs will be installed in the next few weeks, Randolph said.
A petition created by a student last year asked for safety improvements on Lafayette Avenue, Euclid Avenue, Greenwood Avenue, California Avenue and Fraternity Village Drive, which includes student housing and fraternity/sorority houses. The petition asked for several specific changes, including improved lighting on Fraternity Village Drive and adding a crosswalk to the corner of California Avenue and Fraternity Village Drive.
As of May 30, nearly 6,000 people have signed the petition.
The petition was spurred by student deaths in pedestrian crashes in August and November 2021.
About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, officers responded to West Michigan Avenue near Howard Street and discovered a pedestrian who appeared to have been hit by a vehicle, which had already fled the scene.
The woman was Kaylee Gansberg, 21, from Lisle, Illinois. She was a WMU student at and she later died from injuries suffered in the crash, police said.
On Nov. 3, 2021, WMU student Bailey Broderick, 19, was trying to cross Fraternity Village Drive south of Michigan Avenue when she was struck by a vehicle. The crash location is nearby where the new traffic circle and sidewalks will go.
Hunter Hudgins, 20, was found guilty in April of one felony count of operating under influence or while impaired by liquor causing Broderick’s death. Hudgins, who was 19 and a student at WMU at the time, was pledging at a fraternity and driving members to and from the football game against Central Michigan University, according to witness testimony.
“We’re trying to build the streets as safely as possible, but it’s still up to people to take responsibility for how they drive,” Randolph said.
Work on Fraternity Village Drive is consistent with projects happening in other parts of the city, he said.
“We’re trying to slow people down,” Randolph said. “That always helps because it gives people more time to react to situations.”
The city is making changes to streets across Kalamazoo, with a focus on reducing vehicle speeds and increasing safety. The work is focused on downtown, though there are some examples outside the city’s core, including this location and work on Maple Street and Ransom Street.
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