Kivela wants Lowe’s to pay for US 41 safety change

MARQUETTE – State Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, is asking Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse in Marquette Township to pay for traffic lane improvements in front of its store along U.S. 41 West to increase traffic safety.

Kivela – who met with Marquette Township Supervisor Dennis Liimatta and Lowe’s store manager Rob Dickinson Monday – said the issue has been forwarded to Lowe’s corporate officials for a decision.

“I think it went well,” Kivela said Monday after the meeting.

Lowe’s officials declined to comment on the situation today.

Kivela presented Dickinson with a letter Monday outlining the concerns, involving a traffic turn lane off the westbound lane of U.S. 41. Kivela said Michigan Department of Transportation officials have identified the area as a problem in that high-traffic area.

“Due to the current design of your entrance and exit lane along U.S. 41, there is a limited line of sight when your customers exit your store and enter traffic on U.S. 41,” Kivela told Dickinson in the letter. “It is my belief that Lowe’s should share my interest in protecting the lives of those traveling along U.S. 41 and those customers leaving your store.”

Kivela said the turn lane should be moved to improve safety at the intersection of the Lowe’s driveway.

According to an MDOT crash summary report, there have been 175 traffic crashes along U.S. 41 from Wal-Mart west to Brickyard Road over the past five years. There have been 63 injuries reported from those accidents, including six considered serious. There have been no fatalities.

Kivela told Dickinson he had already met with MDOT and local government officials and they agree “there is a serious need for these improvements to be made.”

However, Kivela said MDOT does not have the safety improvement project planned for construction until 2018. He said Marquette Township cannot afford to fund the project.

“It is my belief that this is not a project that the taxpayers should have to pay for, this is a private drive and this problem did not exist prior to your store’s opening,” Kivela wrote to Dickinson.

Kivela said he has requested MDOT’s assistance in creating a design plan and cost estimate. He told Dickinson he would do everything in his power “to assist in expediting any needed permitting issues for the project.”

Kivela said he would hope the project would be ready to begin next spring. If the work is not undertaken, Kivela told Dickinson he will be “looking at all options to prevent further accidents at this location, up to and including, closing your drive’s access to U.S. 41.”

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.