January 2010 Archives

Toyota Recall: The Numbers

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From our sister newspaper, the Los Angeles Times:

Toyota-recall-graphic-1-28-10.jpg

World's Tightest Garage

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We featured this on FOX 17 Morning News today: a fellow in Germany has probably the tightest squeeze to get into his garage, and he has a small car!

We couldn't show you the whole video on the air, so here it is:



I-196 Rebuild: Official MDOT Video Preview

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The big project in West Michigan for the 2010 construction will be the replacement of pavement and bridges on I-196 between US-131 and Fuller Avenue in Grand Rapids.

The freeway will be completely closed for the Summer 2010 to accommodate the scope of the construction. MDOT could have kept the highway open, but that would mean the project would take twice as long and would cost more.

You'll see in the video that so-called "merge-weave" lanes will be added in each direction which will cut the number of slowdowns caused by traffic merging from Ottawa Avenue, College Avenue, and Fuller Avenue.




A snag in the progress of Michigan's law against texting while driving?

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Here's the scoop from AP:

By TIM MARTIN, Associated Press Writer

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The effort to ban the practice of texting while driving in Michigan hit a temporary roadblock Thursday.

The Republican-led state Senate delayed a scheduled vote on legislation that would have prohibited the use of cell phones to read or write text messages or e-mails while driving. Debate over the legislation is expected to resume next week.

"Across the Senate as a whole, I believe there are enough votes to pass this," said Sen. Roger Kahn, a Republican from Saginaw and sponsor of one of the bills in a two-bill package aimed at cracking down on texting behind the wheel. "But within each individual caucus there are different philosophical issues."

A key question is whether texting while driving would be considered a primary or secondary offense. The Democrat-run House already has passed legislation that would make texting a secondary offense, which means police would need another reason to pull motorists over before they could be cited for texting. The Senate legislation, as it now stands, also would make texting a secondary offense.

Some lawmakers say that measure -- which would come with a $100 fine -- isn't strong enough. Making texting while driving a secondary offense, they say, would prevent police officers from stopping distracted driving before it causes an accident.

Michigan State Police officials want texting while driving to be a primary offense, which would allow police to pull over and cite motorists for that alone. More than half the states have banned at least some drivers from texting while driving, and it's a primary offense in most of those states.

Some lawmakers say the Legislature shouldn't dive into the issue because it's a misguided attempt to regulate personal liberties. They argue drivers could get just as distracted by eating, talking or listening to the radio and that it's not the Legislature's place to regulate those activities.


Traffic video: tanker fire, cleanup crew FAIL, weird effect

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It wasn't a very busy morning for Grand Rapids/Holland/Kalamazoo/Battle Creek traffic.

But we kept ourselves busy, anyway:



  

 

Deadly Head-On Crash on Port Sheldon St near Hudsonville

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A head-on crash killed Eric Michael Helm, 18, of Jenison Tuesday morning.

Helm was headed westbound on Port Sheldon Street around 7:30 a.m. between 36th Avenue and 40th Avenue near Hudsonville when his vehicle crossed the center line on a curve and hit a vehicle head-on. The second vehicle was driven by Joel William Brouwer, 46, of Hudsonville. Helm was declared dead at the scene; Brouwer was taken to Metro Health in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries.

Jenison Public Schools Superintendent told FOX 17 News that Helm had recently filled out an application for Western Michigan University. Remarks from the superintendent will be available on FOX 17 News at Six.

Port Sheldon Street was closed most of the morning to allow for a landing zone for Aeromed and then for crash investigation.


 

I-94 gets shut down by debris

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01-11-10-I-94-closed.jpgShortly after 6am, calls began coming into dispatchers reporting debris on the road on EASTBOUND I-94 between Westnedge Avenue and Portage Road. One report said as many as 15 cars were disabled at the side of the freeway.

The first Portage Police Department cruiser through the area confirmed the reports as the officer ticked off the number of disabled vehicles he saw: "... five, no, six. Um, seven..."

Something had fallen off a truck, a pallet maybe. And whatever it contained was puncturing tires.

The officer quickly requested the eastbound lanes be shut down.

The freeway remained closed for an hour, when the far left lane was opened to traffic. But one lane can't handle the volume that is used to three lanes, to traffic backed up to US-131 for most of the morning.

All eastbound lanes were finally opened at 8 a.m.

1-7-10-MDOT-Cam-131-at-Hall-St.jpgFreezing drizzle made for slippery streets, especially in Grandville, Holland, and the West Side of Grand Rapids. Stretches of Chicago Drive and Rivertown Parkway in Grandville and Leonard Street near Remembrance Road were the scenes of numerous crashes that kept emergency crews busy.

In Portage, Bradley Midgett, 22, of Kalamazoo, died when he lost control on slippery pavement shortly before 6 a.m. on Sprinkle Road south of Kilgore Road. His car slid into an oncoming pickup driven by Thomas Hope, 44, of Vicksburg. Investigators believe Midgett was travelling too fast for driving conditions. Both drivers were wearing seat belts and alcohol was not a factor.

In Grandville, the westbound lanes of Chicago Drive were blocked near 28th Street, but police managed to keep access available to eastbound and westbound traffic. Another crash on Ivanrest Avenue brought down a pole, further clogging morning traffic.

Accidents in on Rivertown Parkway  occurred in such a short span of time that cars were sliding into already disabled vehicles between Ivanrest Avenue and Wilson Avenue.

As the morning commute ended, snow moved into the area, and the crashes continued, notably in the city of Grand Rapids and in the Ada area on M-21.

<a href="/news/traffic/">FOX 17 Traffic page</a>
<i>(MDOT Image: US-131 at Hall St, 11:30 a.m. 1/7/10)</i>)

Gas going up ... and Who's Got Traffic?

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Item

The guys at GasBuddy.com note that some Speedways are hiking the price on regular unleaded to $2.79.

As most everyone follows Speedway in pricing, expect prices everywhere to hitch upward a few minutes from now.


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You think West Michigan has bad traffic? Anyone from a top ten metropolitan area in the U.S. would snort at the thought.

And anyone who drives in Bejing would snort at drivers in any top ten U.S. metro area. I found an article on an English language site in China that tells about it, but there's something lost in the translation about costs (a yuan is a lot less than a dollar). But the picture says a lot.

Vanity Shots for 1/4/10

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