Mercury traffic warrants second look by officials

Of the five traffic fatalities in our area in the past year, three have been on Mercury Drive in Grand Haven Township.
Feb 6, 2014


That’s a large percentage to have occurred on just one stretch of road.

After a recent crash which took the lives of two people on Mercury near Robbins Road, several area residents expressed their concerns that state and county road officials need to pay more attention to Mercury.

Their concerns have merit.

In the past few decades, subdivisions have sprouted up along Mercury Drive like dandelions in a spring field.

More people than ever drive along that stretch of road. And the more vehicles that clog a section of road that isn’t designed to handle that volume of traffic, the greater the chances that harm will befall them. That’s a simple statistics calculation.

Perhaps now, more than ever, is a good time to ask the state or our own County Road Commission for a comprehensive road and traffic study on Mercury Drive.

If — and that’s a big if — such a study determines that changes need to be made, then we need to pony up the money and make the changes.

There will surely be a good many people who would detest an additional traffic light, stop sign or other traffic control method on what is becoming a major artery of Grand Haven Township. Drive for the conditions, they’ll say. Don’t drink and drive, they’ll say. Slow down, for heaven’s sake.

Those are great directions to live by, but clearly they don’t work all that well if nearly half of the fatal crashes in our area occurred on just that one stretch of asphalt.

Improved safety for all — including the naysayers — would surely be worth the investment.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



I would be in favor of a 4-way stop at Comstock and Mercury. You can wait there for ever trying to turn out onto Mercury and half the time you can not see clearly which is also why we have many accidents there. I have lived at or near that intersection for almost 40 years.


I agree. Because of the angle of Comstock, it can be hard to see when traffic is clear whether you're turning east or west onto Mercury.


The problem is right in the title of this. 'Mercury traffic warrants'... There really are no such things! Have you ever seen someone pulled over for speeding on Mercury? I have lived on Mercury 30 years and have not seen it once! Where are those patrol we pay so dearly for? People drive like idiots. Think they're race car drivers under any condition. I can stand in my front yard and watch 25-30% of the drivers using their phones.
Suggestion, trib, contact OCSD for stats on tickets issued during your time frame. Then contact OCRD and get their ANNUAL traffic studies that are done every Spring for the last 3 decades. Real reporting beats lame opinions, thanks.


What a good idea. Data driven decisions instead of speculation and emotion (and I'm not being sarcastic).


Completely and wholeheartedly agree!


There are fatal accidents on tons of roads. There have been fatal accidents on US31, M45 and Comstock, just to name a few. There are fatals at intersections with traffic lights or stop signs. There are fatals on back roads that have minimal traffic on them. The problem is not the roads, the problem is people. Most people suck at driving. If you lose control of your car on icy roads, it's probably because you are going too fast. If you drink and drive or are under the influence of drugs, it is because you are dumb and shouldn't be driving in the first place. If you run a red light, it is because you weren't paying attention or just trying to beat it by accelerating and not stopping.

What good is putting in a traffic light going to do? What good is lowering the speed limit going to do? Look at US31 between Grand Haven and Holland, the speed limit is 55mph yet drivers are regularly doing 65mph or more in that stretch. So you want to have Mercury drive lowered to 35?...well guess what, drivers are just going to drive 45 anyway.

I don't get what this article is going to do? You focus on one roadway in the area but don't look at the big picture. How many cars drive on Mercury Drive on any given day or week?...thousands! And out of those thousands of drivers, how many are involved in an accident?...almost none! But let's look at US31 in Grand Haven, thousands and thousands of cars drive through that stretch daily. I for one see accidents all the time on that stretch, from fender-benders to even worse accidents. Yet despite all the accidents that are on that stretch, I have yet to see a tribune story on how we need to put more traffic lights on 31 or a few stop signs or lower the speed limit to 4mph.

You can change a speed limit to whatever you want, no matter how slow and people will find a way to hurt or kill themselves. Accidents are going to happen. You have to have a clue that every time you get behind the wheel, you are risking injury or death, it's not that hard to realize. You are driving a 4000lb metal box down the road, things happen.

To the tribune's about time you drop this story and move on! Seriously, all you do is try to stir the pot and get people all up in arms over things. Get back to what you do best (which I use the term "best" very loosely) and write newsworthy stories. Don't interject your opinions on things like this, you have no idea what you are talking about. Just because you wrote a story and took a few pictures, doesn't mean you are experts on the subject. In fact, almost all the people commenting on this story have no clue what they are talking about and most of them are taking their facts from your less than impressive attempt at reporting news.

In conclusion...driving in an inherently dangerous activity. People are going to be killed and get injured in traffic accidents, it's a fact that we all just need to live with. The roads are not the problem, the problem is all the drivers on the road and their driving habits. No matter what we do to roads, there will always be accidents. Drop the story and move on!!! Nothing is going to be done to Mercury!


Yes! I agree about the accidents, the roads and the Tribune's lack of actual journalism!


All right Tribune Editorial Board, for the love of all that is good and holy, STOP this....STOP trying to constantly stir the pot and create issues where there are none.

There is nothing wrong with Mercury Drive the road. I've driven that road for the past 35 years, in all kinds of weather and have never had a problem. The problem is with the drivers, particularly the ones who seem to think that Mercury drive is an extension of the limited access freeway system. Mercury Drive, like Waverly Avenue before it and Green Street after it, is a main artery for anyone heading East out of town, or West into town. The only other two arteries are M-104, which is on the other side of the river and M-45, which is 7 miles South of town and out of the way for most folks who would use Mercury Drive to get where they're going.

A bit of common sense here and some simple math might explain to your editorial board that Mercury Drive handles a volume of traffic that very few, if any other roads in the area ever see. So, given that there's much more traffic on it than other roads it would seem to follow that the potential for more frequent accidents would be the case. We might even find, if some official entity did a study, that given the volume of traffic the road supports daily, that it's as safe, if not safer than other places in the area.

I find it ridiculous that you blame the road for these accidents. Installing a 4-way stop or a traffic light is not going to solve any problems and likely will create other ones. In the latest incident a stop light or stop sign would've done nothing to prevent the issue, which was an icy road, poorly maintained and speeds too fast for conditions. If the road was dangerous it was because it's surface was covered in ice and snow. Not an unlikely occurrence this time of year.

Fatal traffic accidents happen every couple seconds of every day somewhere in this country. To single out one road as some kind of evil asphalt serpent is just asinine. Driver Education programs for younger drivers are a joke these days and those that pass them and think they know all they need to know should be the real concern. It's not physically possible to devote 100% of your attention to two things at a time so if you're driving, pay attention to what's going on around you, two hands on the wheel. Learn how to drive your vehicle. Know how it reacts to driver inputs, test your braking distances on wet and dry AND icy roads, be proactive instead of reactive so if you get yourself in a bind, you have a chance to get out of it.

Enough already with the the road as the bad seed. It ain't the road that's causing the problems here.


Yes, yes, yes!


you had the same thought i did about the tribune, thanks


It may be a moot point once M231 is completed, traffic on 31 and mercury is likely to be reduced, not a fan of stop signs or lights to slow people down, paying a ticket for speeding or tailgaiting usually works at least for a while.


This article is very similar to the issue with bicyclists! It is never the one behind the wheel that is actually driving the vehicle that is the problem! It is always something else that made me do it! The car crashed into a tree, or went off the road into a ditch or hit the cable guardrail! Yeah, because the driver did not control the vehicle! The driver did not equip the vehicle with good tires, or proper maintenance to assure they can handle bad weather, or to drive as conditions warrant.
Put up another 4-way! All that will result in is a crash, not an accident, when somebody runs the stop sign.
I will tell you where all the speed monitoring is being done, the speed trap at Rosy Mound School! If slowing people down was such a proority there would be signs that flash to notify dirvers, instead of trying to figure out from some menu of mutliple times if there is a special speed limit in effect.
The biggest issue is with the pilot of the craft! Upgrade the training and the ongoing education of the driver!


Yes, Mercury Drive is the culprit for drunk driving, driving under the influence of narcotics, speeding, tailgating, using the center turn lane as a passing lane, rolling stops at crossroads, aggressive driving, driving too fast for conditions, distracted driving, phone, food, dog, kids, cigarette, reading material, GPS, conversation with passengers, driving too slow causing aggressive driving. Did I miss any???? USE YOUR HEAD WHILE DRIVING EVERYWHERE not only Mercury Drive!! I too have been driving this road for more than 37 years with many close calls but no accidents so far..... Be safe


who i their right mind would go 55 mph in the passing lane to pass someone, i also i agree that mercury needs more traffic control, maybe a few 4 way stop signs would do the trick, know friends that where killed on mercury leaving town, once over that bridge off waverly its petal to the metal, they crashed in to a tree clocked at 100 miles mph, if it was a known fact that they had to stop at the next corner, might not have happen, anyone remember how maple island was wide open, not no more


Or it's called natural selection...should we nominate them for a Darwin Award?

Former Grandhavenite

I don't really get the level of passion on display in any discussion of Mercury drive. Guess folks are just a bit mercurial. Ok, sorry.


I think you misunderstand the debate on the topic. At least for myself it's not about a level of "passion" about Mercury Drive, it's a level of frustration with the Tribune's "stir the pot" brand of so-called journalism.

Used to be newspapers reported the news, with some degree of objectivity and gave us the facts along with the who, what, where, when & why, but it seems that style of reporting is passe these days and in it's place are articles that can only be assumed to be published to stir up the natives, thus producing a lengthy debate and generating revenue for the website with hopeful hits on their ads.

However, I'm not sure that making yourself look stupid in order to bring in some spare change is the wisest decision if you want to be taken seriously at what you do.

Personally I find it highly offensive that the real, lowest common denominator is ignored in this type of article and instead replaced with a point of view that is at best, disingenuous and at worst an incitement to blame that which is not the real issue. Not exactly the type of journalism I would expect from a small town newspaper.

Tri-cities realist

Should I be concerned that I find myself agreeing with you more? Good points LTA.


I would say unequivocally yes. Oh, and thanks. :-)


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