BENTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A new construction project at Berrien County’s busiest intersection is done but people who walk along there say it’s still incomplete. Last month, crosswalks were put in by the Michigan Department of Transportation at the intersection of M-139 and Napier Avenue in Benton Township.
The project was part of an intersection upgrade done by the state. Sidewalk ramps were put in but it stops there. The sidewalks don’t go anywhere.
Melanie Goetz, from Berrien Springs, isn’t usually in Benton Township but Friday she had to walk across the intersection. She is glad there is a new crosswalk. “I was happy for (the crosswalk), because I wanted to cross the road but that’s where (the sidewalks) stop. They don’t continue through,” she says.
The sidewalk is a different story. “If I did live here I would have wished I had a sidewalk to walk on the whole way,” says Goetz. There are about 15-feet of sidewalk at all four corners of the intersection but it stops. There are no plans to finish it.
“If you were trying to cross this street, if you were even able to get to that location, how are you going to get further down this street, it stops here," says Holly Lancaster. She works at Riverwood, a disabled home, a few blocks away.
Lancaster says people in wheelchairs have never been able to safely get medication from the two pharmacies on either corner. When they saw construction they thought the problem would be fixed. “They were excited but now they’re seeing the limitations and wondering whose making decisions and where they’re getting information,” she says.
It turns out M-DOT has to put in the ramps for an intersection upgrade thanks to the Americans with Disability Act. The state would install sidewalks at no cost to the township if the township agrees to maintain the sidewalks.
As of a month ago, according to a state spokesperson, Benton Township wasn’t on board.
Nora Jefferson, Benton Township Supervisor told ABC 57 News she didn't know much about the project off hand but did think it would be a good idea to install the sidewalks. Jefferson said a cost analysis would have to be completed before any decision would be made.