New US-23 Flex Route Traffic System is First for Michigan
DETROIT, MI The Michigan Department of Transportation has implemented a new traffic-lane management system it calls "Flex Route" that for the first time allows MDOT to direct motorists to use the inside highway shoulder during high-capacity periods.
After building a system of traffic cameras and overhead traffic-directing and electronic messaging signs, MDOT put the Flex Route in service on US 23 north of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
And the agency is already looking at other areas of the state where managing lane use can allows traffic authorities to add capacity and improve traffic flow at peak volume times and around lane-closing incidents, but where the state may not have funds or otherwise be ready to launch new lane-building projects.
Although this is a first for Michigan, MDOT Director Kirk Steudle said other states that have used this approach have called it "active traffic management." MDOT officials have spent the past year explaining the changes in a campaign that included videos like the one below.
This is an example of how state DOTs are pursuing a range of mobility-improvement options across the country to augment their road building and maintenance programs.
MDOT explained its Flex Route is a lane control system in which a green arrow displayed on overhead signs indicate when traffic may use the median shoulder, while a red X will indicate when the shoulder is closed and not for use as an additional lane. The system will be maintained around-the-clock by MDOT's Statewide Operations Center, based in Lansing, Michigan.
During lane-blocking incidents, MDOT said, motorists can see up to a 50 percent savings in travel time when the Flex Route is operating. Having the Flex Route is also expected to reduce the number of secondary crashes, the agency said.
"Michigan is well known for our work on connected vehicles and having connected roadways will help us maintain our global leadership in mobility," said Gov. Rick Snyder. "The new Flex Route technology is a winning combination for traffic management, convenience and safety."
The Flex Route is part of a $92 million investment along the US 23 corridor that included replacing bridges at several sites, repairing bridges at other locations, extending and upgrading ramps, repairing pavement and expanding intelligent transportation services technology.