MDOT tests shoulder lanes to ease US-23 traffic

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — US-131, I-ninety six and I-196 in West Michigan are typical of many highways in closely populated areas of the state: They have a tendency to again up throughout night rush.

All that ready in visitors prices greater than frustration.

“Many estimates from outdoors organizations say that we spend $one hundred twenty billion due to congestion, however it prices you and me, the typical family, $1,seven hundred a yr sitting in visitors,” Jeff Cranson, the director of communications for the Michigan Division of Transportation, stated.

All that idling can also be dangerous for the surroundings, he identified.

So when the state moved ahead with plans to rebuild a portion of US-23 north of Ann Arbor, officers determined to experiment with a approach to transfer visitors throughout peak durations through the use of the prevailing shoulder. They name it a Flex Route.

“Some states name it exhausting shoulder operating,” Cranson stated. “Principally, it takes a shoulder and converts it to a journey lane at sure occasions of the day.”

Right here’s the way it works: A gantry above the roadway will show actual-time visitors info, together with velocity and hazard warnings. A lighted inexperienced arrow means the Flex Route is open and a pink X means it’s closed.

“US-23 north of Ann Arbor makes good sense as a result of within the morning, there’s loads of visitors stepping into to Ann Arbor and within the afternoon, there’s quite a bit popping out. For a few of these hours in between, not a lot,” Cranson stated.

State officers say the Flex Route permits the state to experiment with a option to scale back congestion with out paying to construct one other devoted visitors lane. That might value taxpayers an estimated three to 4 occasions the $ninety million invoice for the US-23 Flex Route.

The lanes additionally function a short lived repair as sensible car know-how continues to evolve.

“Sometime, you gained’t want these indicators overhead as a result of your automotive will speak to you and say, ‘That is what it is best to do now on this street,’” Cranson stated.

So if the experiment works close to Ann Arbor, might it occur right here in West Michigan?

Cranson stated it a matter of value and the precedence for the area.

“They must take a look at the entire area program and the place else the cash is required throughout West Michigan and determine of that’s a precedence sooner or later,” he stated. “Perhaps sometime if this works and this mannequin has success, US-131 each north and south of Grand Rapids might be a candidate.”

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