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DTE traffic raises safety concerns



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August 21, 2013 - Independence Township will keep a closer watch on events at DTE Energy Theater to avoid what township officials called, "a perfect storm" of events leading to traffic chaos and a seriously injured motorcyclist.

Independence Township Trustee David Lohmeier, said he knows people are wondering what happened that night, Friday, July 26.

DTE management only projected about 7,000 to show up to a concert event that evening, and as a result the police presence for the event was scaled back. But then about 17,000 showed up.

"The concert ended up selling out," said Township Supervisor Pat Kittle.

DTE had to turn people away from the event and, as a result, traffic was both coming into and going out of the venue, which usually does not happen during a concert.

Traffic on 1-75 was backed up to Great Lakes Crossing, and Sashabaw Road was a nightmare, Kittle said.

"You could not have had more stuff go wrong," he said.

Kittle said people were swerving and veering into other lanes.

"They were zigging down the left lanes, driving over to the right," he said.

At 10:25 p.m. that evening, a 19-year-old Brandon Township man riding a motorcycle was seriously injured in a crash with a pickup truck at Sashabaw and Waldon roads. The intersection was shut down, adding to the traffic nightmare. The driver of the pickup was arrested for drunk driving.

"No one wants this to occur again," said Kittle.

Independence Township Lieutenant Dirk Feneley expressed concern to DTE and made it clear this type of occurrence cannot happen again.

"DTE is not happy with the situation either," said Kittle. "This type of thing cannot happen again because it puts officers in harm's way and really does disrupt the community. You couldn't have more stuff go wrong on a Friday night in the community."

Kittle said the Independence Township substation of the Oakland County Sheriff will be closely monitoring events so the department can better project what type of crowd shows up.

Staff writer
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