Michigan DOT Flex Route 23 News October 2017

Flex Route 23 News

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October 2017 

More information focuses on how to drive new Flex Route 

 Flex Route Billboard Rendition

Sample depiction of billboard advertising appearing along US-23.

The US-23 Flex Route, which is located on US-23 between M-14 and M-36 (9 Mile Road), will soon be fully operational. Michigan's first Flex Route will include a network of easy-to-read signs, cameras, and electronic message boards attached to overhead gantries that will constantly monitor traffic conditions. The components that make up the system all work together to ease traffic congestion by opening the median (flex) lanes as needed – and to alert motorists regarding any traffic incidents that may be ahead. 

Because the Flex Route will be launched in early November, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) encourages every motorist to review the information available concerning how it operates. 

"As we get closer to making the Flex Route fully operational, we want to make sure that motorists understand both how the system works and how it can improve their travel times through this corridor," said Mark Sweeney, MDOT Brighton Transportation Service Center (TSC) manager. "Beginning the first of November, we will step up our efforts to get this important information out." 

At that time, billboards will be placed along US-23 encouraging drivers to visit the Flex Route website at www.FlexRoute23.com, where they will find an instructional video, a brochure, a series of newsletters posted throughout 2017, and a list of Frequently Asked Questions that MDOT believes will address any questions motorists might have. 

 Flex Route Newsletter Topics 

February: New Flex Route to significantly improve travel time and safety (an introduction)

March: New technology will alert motorists to what's ahead (what the overhead signs can tell you)

April: Flex Lane offers viable solutions for managing temporary traffic congestion (why it works)

May: Driver awareness key to Flex Route success (understanding the lane control signs); and Flex Route concept finds success in another state (Washington reports that the system works!)

June: The inner workings of MDOT's new Flex Route system (how does it all work?)

July: Construction of Michigan's first Flex Route hits halfway point (status report for related project improvements)

August: Michigan's first Flex Route supports driverless vehicle technology (how it relates to the bigger picture)

September: Flex Route 23 will improve travel today and for decades to come (future research)

Because the median shoulders (or flex lanes) will be used as temporary lanes, it is critical that all motorists both understand and follow the rules regarding how to safely drive the Flex Route. The instructional video online describes how the Flex Route will work to actively manage traffic, including how the signs posted on the overhead gantries will help alert motorists. 

Here are the basics: 

1.     Dynamic Lane and Shoulder Use

a.      When motorists see a green arrow on the overhead sign, it means that the shoulder/flex route is open to improve traffic flow and relieve congestion.

b.     When traffic is light or there are no traffic incidents, a red X posted above the lane means the shoulder/flex route is closed and should not be used. 

2.     Queue Warning System

a.      A yellow chevron/merge sign posted overhead advises motorists to merge or move over to avoid any incidents.

b.     Additional signs might provide motorists with more information, such as that there is an incident or blocked lane ahead. This early warning system promotes safety by minimizing the potential for secondary crashes along the route ahead. 

3.     Real-Time Speed Advisory System

a.      Traffic speed is constantly monitored to detect any slowdowns. Recommended speeds will be posted above each open lane.

b.     If traffic slows, a lower recommended speed limit will then be posted above the open lane, which will enhance safety by alerting motorists to a change in conditions ahead. 

News outlets and social media also will provide messages regarding how to drive Michigan's new Flex Route. For example, "MDOT to launch flex route on US-23 to ease rush hour traffic – here's how it works" is an article recently posted on clickondetroit.com.

Current and upcoming construction activities(See map)


 US-23/M-14 interchange

Flex Route construction near the US-23/M-14 interchange

  • M-14 to North Territorial Road:On northbound US-23, the Flex Route lane and median work is complete. Traffic is shifted to the inside lanes to accommodate the crash investigation site construction and outside lane/shoulder work. On southbound US-23 the Flex Route lane and median work is complete. Traffic is shifted to the inside lanes to accommodate crash investigation site construction and outside shoulder work. At the south end, concrete base course in the widened section is complete (south of Warren Road). Asphalt base, leveling and top courses to follow, along with final slope/ditch grading. The median barrier wall and interchange lighting starting at the M-14/US-23 split to just south of Joy Road is nearly complete.

  • North Territorial to Barker Road: Traffic is shifted onto the Flex Route and middle lanes for most of this section to accommodate asphalt work on the outside lane/shoulder. Concrete patching is 95 percent complete. A small stretch of patch work still needs to be performed on southbound lanes just south of Barker Road. This cannot be completed until northbound traffic is shifted back to its normal direction. Ramp acceleration and deceleration extensions are complete. Peat excavation near the 6 Mile Road interchange is complete.   
  • Barker Road to 8 Mile Road:This section of the project is in Stage 2, which includes full reconstruction of the northbound roadway. Four lanes of traffic are being maintained on the newly constructed southbound roadway. Northbound traffic is shifted to the southbound roadway using temporary crossovers placed south of Barker Road and north of 8 Mile Road. To date, the Great Lakes Central Railroad bridge reconstruction, the Barker Road bridge repairs, and the box culvert extension are all complete. Asphalt has been placed on the newly constructed roadway, with the top course scheduled for early this week. The contractor anticipates shifting the two northbound lanes back onto the northbound roadway early this week. At this time, the 8 Mile Road northbound off ramp will be opened to traffic. Once northbound traffic is shifted back to its normal configuration, asphalt on the outside lane/shoulder will be completed in both directions. Asphalt work has been completed (shoulders and lanes) in each direction between M-36 to project limit.

Intelligent Transportation System (ITS):

  • Final system testing is scheduled to begin in early November. The system will go into its "burn-in" phase following acceptable final system testing, which is tentatively set for mid-November.

  • To date, all contractual milestones related to ITS items have been achieved.


  • North Territorial Road: The interchange, ramps, and both roundabouts are open. 5 Mile Road is open to traffic.   
  • 6 Mile Road: Bridge reconstruction and asphalt approach work are complete and the roadway is open to traffic. The northbound on ramp is currently closed for reconstruction. This closure will be in place through early-November. 


  • 8 Mile Road: Asphalt paving of the roundabouts is complete. The southbound ramps are open to traffic. The northbound off ramp is closed for reconstruction in conjunction with northbound US-23 mainline. This ramp is anticipated to open to traffic the week of Oct. 23 along with the northbound traffic shift. The northbound on ramp is closed for reconstruction. This ramp is scheduled to early November. Interchange lighting at both North Territorial and 8 Mile roads is close to being complete.  

Warren and Joy Road Structures:

  • Repairs of the Joy Road Bridge is nearly complete, except for concrete surface work. The damaged beam at Joy Road has been removed. The replacement beam is tentatively scheduled to be installed before Jan. 25. A temporary traffic signal will maintain traffic in both directions while this work is being performed.

  • Repair of the Warren Road Bridge is nearly complete, except for concrete surface coating. A temporary traffic signal is maintaining traffic in both directions while this work is being performed.

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