November 2009 Archives

What's up with the foamed minivan: UPDATE

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Alert viewer Barbara Shear spotted the noted Foamed Minivan in the parking lot of Field's Fabrics over the weekend.

This says a lot.

When I first brought it up on the air, Tracy Forner blurted out that it looked like crochet. Put the van in context (in the parking lot of a fabric store), and the sense of what he said shines forth.

It DOES look like crochet.

WHY someone would do this to their car (and what is it like to drive in the winter; do they store it indoors like a prized sports car?) is still beyond me.

And what's the stuff on the hood?

I asked Barbara Shear, who took this shot. Her reply blew my theory out of the water:

"Circuit boards, and wiring. There's even a vacuum tube on one of the boards. I don't know whether the guy is really into his work, repairs electronics for a hobby, or just took apart some old TV's and radios and decided to save money on painting his van, but it's actually pretty cool looking in person! I was really excited about actually seeing it after it's initial airing on your show.


"I think now the van owner was the guy next to me asking about felt, and obviously out of his element in a fabric store, maybe even for the first time."



What's up with the foam minivan on Plainfield Avenue?

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Beat the Traffic Blackberry app now available

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Beat the Traffic logo.gifBeat the Traffic, the software FOX 17 uses to present Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo/Battle Creek traffic on the air, is now available on Blackberry.

For a one-time fee of $9.99, the app provides traffic maps and live incident reports for not only the West Michigan area but 100 cities in the U.S. and Canada.

I am not a Blackberry user, so I can't review the app for you, It is available through the Blackberry AppWorld portal.

I-196 Complete Nighttime Closure, Lane Closure; I-96 Lane Closure

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I-196 CLOSURES: There will be short closures of I-196 at COLLEGE AVE for a two-hour period 10 p.m. to Midnight on Monday (11/23). The closures will last just 15 minutes at a time, but there may be more than one. Be prepared to be detoured to the exit ramps and return to the freeway using the entrance ramps.

I-196 LANE CLOSURE: The pavement repairs continue 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. overnight Monday night (11/23-11/24). EASTBOUND I-196 will be reduced to one lane between FULLER AVE and I-96.

I-96 logo small.jpgI-96 LANE CLOSURE: Crews will be installing an overhead sign, requiring I-96 WESTBOUND to be reduced to one lane between CASCADE RD and M-21 from 8 p.m. to Midnight Monday (11/23).

Crash Test Results: 3 of Top 4 are American Cars

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Weekend Construction: There's still a little ...

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I-196 RAMP CLOSURE: The on-ramp from FULLER AVE to EASTBOUND I-196 will be closed from 8 p.m. Friday (11/20) to 6 a.m. Monday (11/23).
Detour: Use COLLEGE AVE for eastbound access to I-196. East on MICHIGAN ST or LEONARD ST to COLLEGE AVE.

I-196 LANE CLOSURE: The left lane of EASTBOUND I-196 between FULLER AVE and I-96 will be closed for the weekend, from 8 a.m. Friday (11/20) to 6 a.m. Monday (11/23). Expect slower traffic.

CHICAGO DRIVE LANE CLOSURE: The right lane of CHICAGO DR will be closed through the weekend until Monday (11/23) approaching I-196.This may produce a squeeze, especially for traffic turning from MAIN ST and for traffic turning on to the WESTBOUND I-196 on-ramp.

"Oh, joy! Oh, rapture!"

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I-196 between 44TH ST and 28TH ST is now open in both directions, two lanes of new concrete (westbound concrete was laid last year), and the new BALDWIN ST interchange is done.

This is actually old news, because the transition began Friday night when the new eastbound pavement was opened to traffic. Then the concrete barriers in the westbound lanes were removed over the weekend.

Here's the list from MDOT of what was done over this two-year project:

  • Addition of the new on ramp to eastbound I-196 from Baldwin Street including constructing a new bridge to carry the ramp over Buck Creek.
  • Addition of a weave/merge lane between the on ramp from Chicago Drive and the off ramp to M-11 (28th Street).
  • Replaced the eastbound I-196 bridge over the CSX Railroad.
  • Replaced the eastbound I-196 bridge over Buck Creek.
  • Completion of just under 2.8 miles of concrete pavement including 1.6 miles of concrete overlay and 1.2 miles of full depth concrete pavement.
  • Bridge deck overlay, beam and pier repairs, and barrier upgrades on eastbound I-196 over 36th Street.
  • Completion of 7 retaining walls along eastbound I-196.
  • Barrier upgrades on the eastbound I-196 bridge over Chicago Drive.
Now drivers between Holland and Grand Rapids can quote the Scarecrow with all sincerity: "Oh, joy! Oh, rapture!"

Ah, the Weekend. Relaxing Lane and Ramp Closures

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The unofficial end of the road construction season in Michigan corresponds with the beginning of firearm deer season. Is that cooincidence?

I-196 LANE CLOSURE: The final cleanup is this weekend for the big rebuild of I-196 between 44TH ST and 28TH ST and the building of the BALDWIN ST interchange. The LEFT LANE of WESTBOUND I-196 will be closed from 7 p.m. Friday (11/13) until 10 p.m. Sunday (11/15) to remove concrete barriers.

I-196 LANE CLOSURE: Expect I-196 to be down to one lane in each direction between FULLER AVE and the EAST BELTLINE from 8 p.m. Friday (11/13) until 6 a.m. Monday (11/16). In the past, the biggest slowdowns have taken place on WESTBOUND I-96 at the EAST BELTLINE as people get backed up getting onto WESTBOUND I-196.

I-96 logo small.jpgI-96 LANE CLOSURE: The LEFT LANE of WESTBOUND I-96 will be closed between PLAINFIELD AVE and US-131 from 6 a.m. Saturday (11/14) until 6 p.m. Sunday (11/15).

US-131 logo 100x80.jpgUS-131 AT 44TH ST: Exiting from SOUTHBOUND US-131 to 44TH ST, you can only turn WEST (right turn) onto 44TH ST. Also, you cannot turn from EASTBOUND 44TH ST onto the ramp to NORTHBOUND US-131. All this is due to final construction work on the bridge, and it will be in place through November 25.

US-31-logo-75x75.jpgUS-31 CLOSURE: NORTHBOUND traffic on I-196 cannot exit at US-31 toward Holland until Monday afternoon (11/16). US-31 NORTHBOUND is closed from the I-196 split to WASHINGTON AVE.

US-131 logo 100x80.jpgDEER HUNTER ALERT: Heading to the north country? Remember that US-131 is CLOSED at the Manistee River until the end of May 2010 due to bridge replacement. Allow for more time to traverse the detour on M-55 and M-66.

Is the driver in the next lane awake?

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I am hearing more and more about professional drivers getting into crashes after falling asleep.

Here's the latest:

SYLVAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Police say the drivers of two semi trucks apparently fell  asleep at the wheel about a mile apart in Washtenaw County, leading to separate crashes that snarled Interstate 94 traffic.
      Michigan State Police say the first crash happened about 3 a.m. Thursday on eastbound I-94 in Sylvan Township and the second happened about an hour later on westbound I-94 about a mile west of the first crash.
      Sgt. Chris Pascoe says neither driver was injured and no other vehicles were involved. He says the crashes about 45 miles west of Detroit appear to be a coincidence.
      Traffic was backed up near the site of the first Delays were minimal at the second crash site.
      Police say more delays were possible as cleanup continued.

When will it be done?

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Highway signs.JPGYeah, I keep asking myself the same thing.

US-131 @ 44TH ST:

  • The ramp from NORTHBOUND US-131 to 44TH ST is scheduled to open on November 28.
  • The ramp from 44TH ST to SOUTHBOUND US-131 is scheduled to open November 28.
  • The lane closure on SOUTHBOUND US-131 at 36TH ST is scheduled to be removed November 21.
  • The lane closure on NORTHBOUND US-131 at 54TH ST is scheduled to be removed on November 25.

I-196 between KENOWA AVE and 28TH ST:

  • All ramp closures and lane closures are scheduled to be removed by Saturday, November 14.

M-21 over the Flat River in Lowell:

  • Various traffic shifts and lane closures are scheduled to end by November 18.

M-37 at M-46:

  • The construction of the roundabout is complete, but there is still a narrow squeeze for further work until November 20.


  • The lane closure on NORTHBOUND US-31 at FILLMORE ST is scheduled to end November 13.
  • The lane closure on SOUTHBOUND US-31 at FILLMORE ST is scheduled to end November 14.

Watch This: Woman falls in front of train

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Semi hits bicyclist and doesn't stop

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I haven't done something like this before, but if there's a chance you saw something, maybe you can help.

Yesterday, what for me was yet another incident that could cause  a delay in your commute was a more interesting story: a semi hit a guy on a bicycle and didn't stop, and police are now looking for that semi driver. The bicyclist was apparently wearing what he should be wearing and bearing lights as he should on a dark morning.

Whether the semi driver saw the bicyclist or not, whether the driver wasn't aware of hitting anything, no one knows.

Below is the text from a release from the Kent County Sheriff Department:


Original Information: 11.09.09

At approximately 7:00 am this morning 44 year old Carl Otte was riding his bicycle East on Cascade Road at East Paris when he crossed over into the westbound lanes and was struck by a semi tractor / trailer.

The driver of the semi did not stop and continued west on Cascade Road after the crash.

Mr. Otte was wearing a helmet and had properly working lights on his bicycle at the time of the crash.

The Mr. Otte was transported to Spectrum Hospital where he is being treated for a broken leg, lacerations to his face, and some bruising to his brain.

A witness described the semi tractor trailer as white with red lettering.

If you have information pertaining to this crash please call the Kent County Sheriff's Office at 632-6100 or Silent Observer at 774-2345

Weekend closures ...

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1US-131 logo 100x80.jpgUS-131 RAMP CLOSURE: The ramp from SOUTHBOUND US-131 to WESTBOUND I-196 will be closed 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday (11/7).
Detour: Continue south to MARKET AVE, exit and return to NORTHBOUND US-131, then take the left lane exit to WESTBOUND I-196.

I-196 RAMP CLOSURES:  The ramps from FULLER AVE to EASTBOUND I-196 and to WESTBOUND I-196 will be closed over the weekend, Friday (11/6) 8 p.m. to Monday (11/9) 6 a.m.
Detour: Go west to COLLEGE AVE and use those ramps. The COLLEGE AVE bridge project is virtually done.
The ramp from WESTBOUND I-196 to LANE AVE will be closed 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday (11/7).
Detour: Exiting at LAKE MICHIGAN DR is not a good option; there is no way to turn around to head back on I-196 to LANE AVE. Instead, you will have to continue to MARKET AVE, exit and return to EASTBOUND I-196 and exit at LANE AVE.
I-196 LANE CLOSURES: Pavement repairs continue this weekend for I-196 between FULLER AVE and the EAST BELTLINE from 8 p.m. Friday (11/6) to 6 a.m. Monday (11/9).

I-96 logo 100x100.jpg

I-96 LANE CLOSURE: The left lane of EASTBOUND I-96 will be closed between ALPINE AVE and the GRAND RIVER BRIDGE from 8 p.m. Friday (11/6) to 6 a.m. Monday (11/9).

I-94 logo 100x100.jpgI-94 LANE & RAMP CLOSURE: Overnight Saturday, I-95 EASTBOUND will be reduced to one lane between LOVERS LANE and PORTAGE RD, and the ramp from SOUTHBOUND PORTAGE RD to EASTBOUND I-94 will be closed.

A cop asks, "Why does driving bring out the worst in people?"

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You would think that a police officer would never wonder about what brings out the worst in people. They see all sides, good and -- especially -- bad, every shift they work.

But an officer in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area still wonders, "Why does driving bring out the worst in people?"

Maybe you have some thoughts.

New roundabout at M-37 & M-46 makes history of a sort ...

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The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) says its new roundabout at the junction of M-37 and M-46 just south of Casnovia, MI, is the first one in the area on a state highway. The junction is open after being closed all summer.

Roundabouts being new to most Michigan drivers, here's a link to the MDOT site that explains them.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2009 is the previous archive.

December 2009 is the next archive.

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