Michigan DOT Flex Route 23 News February 2017

Flex Route 23 News

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February 2017

What is this?
Welcome to the new monthly Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) e-mail newsletter focused on the US-23 Flex Route project between M-14 and M-36. The newsletter's purpose is to provide project updates and information regarding the project and its impacts. You are receiving this monthly newsletter because in the past you indicated an interest in the project. If you do not want to receive this you can unsubscribe here

New US-23 Flex Route to significantly improve travel time and safety

 Flex Route Lane

The area is prepped to begin building the road grade for the proposed Flex Lane. 

Last November, MDOT kicked off a most complex and innovative road and bridge improvement projects along US-23, between M-14 and M-36 (9 Mile Road).

Originally built in the 1950s and expanded in the 1960s, US-23 has reached its maximum capacity. Each day, approximately 65,000 vehicles travel to destinations from Brighton to Ann Arbor and beyond, causing major traffic delays, especially during morning and evening rush hours. MDOT plans to help alleviate the congestion by using a new active traffic management solution called a Flex Route.

Michigan’s first Flex Route will use a lane control system comprised of overhead signs, cameras, and electronic message boards mounted on large gantries. The system will manage freeway traffic more efficiently during peak hours by opening and closing shoulder lanes to traffic, and promote safety by providing drivers with advance notice of delays and accidents.

"Our studies revealed that this was a peak-hour problem," said Paul Ajegba, region engineer of MDOT's University Region. "Due to limited funding, adding a third lane would have been too costly. Installing the Flex Route enables us to use our current infrastructure to optimize road capacity."

 Gantry Footings

Gantry (overhead sign truss) foundations located in the median of US-23. The Flex Route notification boards will be mounted to these gantries and spaced at half mile increments within the project limits. 

Construction crews have been working day and night to widen several bridges and shoulders in preparation for the Flex Route. The majority of the work is being done in the median, where crews are making steady progress installing storm sewers and drainage outlets, and pouring footings that will support the overhead gantries.

Traffic patterns are being revised regularly in order to expedite the project and to keep traffic flowing. Two lanes will be open in each direction at all times, except nights and weekends.

"We know that roadway construction is an inconvenience," Ajegba said. "We ask motorists to please slow down in all work zones, which will help to keep workers safe."

Motorists can receive alerts about traffic detours, lane closures, and lane shifts through the project website (www.flexroute23.com), social media (www.facebook.com/michigandot and www.twitter.com/mdot_a2), and media outlets. The project is on schedule and expected to be completed by spring 2018. 

Current and upcoming construction activities

  • Along the outside US-23 shoulders, crews are cutting new drainage ditch pathways and installing the electrical conduit and infrastructure required for the new Flex Route system. In addition, work is taking place at several of the interchanges within the project limits.
  • At North Territorial and 8 Mile roads, the interchange infields are being stripped of topsoil and then rebuilt to grade on the north side of the existing bridges. Bridge foundation work will continue at both locations through March to prepare for the installation of the bridge beams. 
  • Foundation work is underway to widen the existing bridge over Barker Road to accommodate Flex Route lanes for both northbound and southbound traffic. The sidewalk underneath the bridge has been closed for public safety while the bridge upgrades take place.
  • Starting Feb. 13 through Feb. 15, there will be nighttime single-lane closures on southbound US-23 between M-14 and 6 Mile Road. The closures are needed so crews can implement a traffic shift, shifting traffic from the current configuration to the outside shoulder in this location. The work will include existing pavement marking removal and placing temporary pavement markings, putting traffic in the new configuration. 
  • At 6 Mile Road, crews are prepping the site for the removal and replacement of the north half of the bridge, which is tentatively scheduled to begin in late March.
  • Temporary widening of the northbound side of the Great Lakes Central Railroad bridge also is underway. This will accommodate both the northbound and southbound lanes in an upcoming stage of the project, which is tentatively scheduled for April. 

Project Map: http://bit.ly/2lksAPS

 Flex Route Drainage

Tying a jack and bore outlet pipe into a drainage structure within the median of US-23. This is part of the enclosed median drainage system required to support the added Flex Lane. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What is a Flex Route?

A Flex Route is an active traffic management system that promotes safety and helps manage rush hour and seasonal traffic congestion by utilizing the median shoulder as a temporary third lane.

2. Where will the first Flex Route in Michigan be located?

MDOT is installing Michigan’s first Flex Route system on US-23 north of Ann Arbor, from M-14 to M-36.

3. Why was this route selected for the first Flex Route?

US-23 north of Ann Arbor was selected for Michigan’s first Flex Route because it is an area where rush hour and seasonal traffic congestion is commonplace, the surface needed to be rehabilitated, and the geography and narrow confines of the MDOT right of way made other options prohibitively expensive. The three-hour pulses of heavy traffic during morning (southbound) and evening (northbound) rush hours, and relatively lighter traffic outside of these time blocks, allowed us to right-size the solution to the problem using traffic management technology. Once completed next year, we expect to see an average rush hour drive time reduction of about 20 minutes through this stretch.  

4. When will it be ready for use?

The US-23 Flex Route work is expected to be completed by spring 2018. 

Flex Route Construction
Constructing the mechanically stabilized earth abutment at the 8 Mile Road bridge replacement. The new bridge beams will be set on top of a concrete abutment wall poured on top of the steel piles.