This Blog Will Soon Close

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This marks the end of this blog.

The reason will be come apparent very soon.

Continued postings regarding traffic in West Michigan will be available at


Would You Pay To Avoid Traffic Jams?

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I recently read or heard an economist recommend that more of America's expressways be made toll roads as a way to more fairly distribute the cost of building and maintaining highways. Instead of making everyone pay for roads, have those who actually use the roads bear more of the financial burden of upkeep.

Makes sense, especially if you have lots of money to add toll booths and barriers to enforce the tolls. Here in Michigan, we don't have a lot of cash lying around.

Now comes a new twist: add just one toll lane.

The city of Austin, Tex., where traffic is becoming more and more snarled, they are doing just that. I read about it (where else?) on the Freakonomics blog.

It's Deer Hit Season

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On Michigan's roads, there are actually three seasons: winter, road construction, and deer hit season.

Deer hits are common throughout the year, but, as we all know, they really ramp up in October and November. In all of 2011, there 53,592 deer crashes according to the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center. That's down by nearly 2,000 from the previous year. But in eight of those crashes, people died.

You can imagine the cost in injuries to people and damage repair to vehicles, let alone the cost to the deer. We're crashing into them, shooting at them. I'd be moving out, but I'm not a forest dwelling ruminant.

How can you avoid deer hits? The nuclear option would be to move to Australia; they don't have deer there. Short of that, the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition has some ideas:

  • Be watchful for deer at dawn and dusk. They tend to move about at that time of day.
  • If you see one anywhere, sharpen your level of alert; there are usually more you can't see.
  • When you see one cross the road, expect more; they tend to walk in single file.
  • When you see 'Deer Crossing' signs, be alert; there's a reason the signs were put there. The location is known to be popular with deer.
  • Don't swerve; chances are good you'll go off the road if you do.

That last one will be hard. We have to get in the habit of slowing down and driving straight when we see a deer.

Here are the 2011 statistics county-by-county:

  • Allegan 973
  • Barry 918
  • Berrien 746
  • Branch 941
  • Calhoun 1,429
  • Ionia 878
  • Kalamazoo 1,011
  • Kent 1,750
  • Mecosta 873
  • Montcalm 1,340
  • Muskegon 588
  • Newaygo 563
  • Ottawa 1,111
  • Van Buren 620

Shake Your Mailbox

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I have never seen this kind of public notice, but that doesn't mean governments haven't sent them out.

The Kalamazoo County Road Commission is recommending that you shake your mailbox. That is, if you have a mailbox on a post next to the street, make sure it is secure in the ground before the snow flies.

I don't have such a mailbox, but they got my attention.

In a recent press release, the commission said that most mailboxes that are damaged in the winter are not hit by snowplows, but they are damaged when snow is pushed against them by snowplows and the mailboxes are not solidly anchored in the ground.

Hence the phrase, Shake Your Mailbox.

See if it's loose. A firmly planted mailbox stands a better chance to remain standing against the onslaught of snow kicked up by city and county plows.

Makes sense.

Saturday, October 20, is Shake Your Mailbox Day. Yes, there's a Shake Your Mailbox Day. 

By the way, government, including the Kalamazoo County Road Commission, does not take responsibility for mailboxes damaged as a result of snowplowing operations, but KCRC will take a claim into consideration if it is clear that damage was caused by direct contact from one of their snowplows.

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New Cars Segment Begins Friday

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Every Friday around 6:45 a.m. on FOX 17 Morning News, learn what Jean knows about cars.

Jean Jennings has her own web site, and Ford has picked her up to sponsor her new TV segments. 

Don't expect the same old thing from Jean, even though she has lived and breathed cars all her life

Don't believe me? Watch our first interview:

Gas Price Hike to $4.05 Today?

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The GasBuddy guys are pretty good at predictions, but they are not always right.

They say gas prices tend to change on Tuesdays, and this email notice was sent Monday night.

Let's see how close they come.

GasBuddy 9-25-12

Watch Out For Adopt-A-Highway Volunteers

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Adopt a highway - trash.jpgThe final two weekends of September is the final chance of the year for volunteers to clean up the state's highways.

The 10-day period beginning September 22 will see nearly 3,200 volunteer groups picking up trash along the side of about 7,200 miles of highways in Michigan.

Last year, more than 75,000 bags of trash for collected by civic groups and employees of businesses. 
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Win A Tour Of The Mackinac Bridge

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Bridge WalkThis Labor Day, I'll be checking an item off my bucket list.

I'll be participating in the 55th Annual Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk. It's something I have wanted to do since moving to Michigan back in the 80's. I have roped my family into coming along, though the camping trip includes the promise of a day on Mackinac Island.

If you have walked the bridge in the past, there is now an MDOT contest where you can win a tour of the Mighty Mac. And that means seeing the bridge from the top down: a trip to the top of one of the towers.

Go to MDOT's Facebook page and post your favorite memories of walking the bridge. The winner will be chosen as random from everyone who posts. The person who posts a story about traveling the farthest to walk the bridge will get some Pure Michigan swag.

If I dared to dream big, I would put a tour of the bridge on my bucket list. I haven't walked the bridge yet, so I can't enter. Should I dare to dream?

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Gas Hits $4

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GasBuddy app screen shotGas station owners seem to have resisted the $4 per gallon barrier on regular unleaded since gas prices jumped over that level back in 2008.

It took Isaac to force their hand.

Regular unleaded was $4.00 a gallon at one station in Grand Rapids Tuesday morning. According to my GasBuddy app, it was the first station in all of the Grand Rapids-Holland-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek area to make the leap.

In an email this morning, Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy blamed tropical storm Isaac and "murky regional refining issues" for a jump of 35 cents per gallon in the wholesale price of gasoline on Monday. Understandably, oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico have gone offline as the storm got near.

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Gas Prices Popping Back Up

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The guys at The Gas Game and GasBuddy are predicting gas prices to shoot back up to around $3.89 today.

Gas pumpPrices have been slipping from the recent high of $3.99

Sure enough, the Speedway station on Leonard Street at Ball Avenue in Grand Rapids was just spotted at $3.95. Speedway stations are characteristically the leaders when prices fluctuate.

Gas can still be gotten for as low as $3.65 in Grand Rapids, $3.67 in Kalamazoo, $3.62 in Holland, and $3.72 in Battle Creek.

That's as of this posting and according to my GasBuddy app.