MDOT is naming snowplows and everyone can help

MDOT is naming snowplows and everyone can help

MDOT is naming snowplows and everyone can help


January 17, 2021 — Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) snowplows now will have a special and personal touch on the department’s interactive Mi Drive map. Inspired in part by, MDOT has started giving snowplows unique and creative names on the Mi Drive map. Current names include Plowasaurus Rex, Sir Salts-A-Lot, and Snowboni, and were chosen from hundreds of public offerings.

Yes, Plowy McPlowface is on the list.

Among the submissions were three special names: Tiger, Chill Bill, and Frosty, all from Roxane Gilbert’s 5th Grade students at Fair Plain East Elementary in Benton Harbor. Tiger, the school’s mascot, is now the name of one of the plows along M-63 near the school.

“We are excited that these snowplows will reflect our students’ creativity,” Fair Plain East Principal Brian Litten said. “Going forward, this partnership with MDOT will open the doors for our students to recognize career opportunities.”

Starting with several snowplows in MDOT’s Southwest Region, MDOT is hopeful to name each of the more than 250 MDOT plows statewide in the near future.

“This idea really was driven by people who reached out to us and wanted to know how they could name our plows like those in other places,” Nick Schirripa, MDOT spokesman, said. “There was so much positive energy and excitement generated so quickly for this idea, it was contagious. We couldn’t help but give the idea some legs and get some fantastic ideas for names.”

To see each snowplow’s name, visit Mi Drive at and activate the MDOT snowplow tracker map layer. By hovering over an icon, the plow name will appear. Clicking on the icon will show the name and a description of what the truck is doing, as well a driver’s seat view of current road conditions through the snowplow cameras.

“We hoped this could be both fun and instructive and we’re thrilled with the participation from students and others in the community,” said MDOT Director Paul C. Ajegba. “I love many of the suggestions, and I can’t wait to see more.”

School and community groups are encouraged to submit ideas as an organization, in essence adopting a snowplow as their own and creating opportunities to learn more about snowplowing operations, winter driving, and other transportation-related safety topics.

More names are needed, and everyone is welcomed to participate. Go to and submit your ideas. There are a few guidelines. To be considered, suggestions must be G-rated and family friendly, and submissions that include famous, character, or brand names cannot be used. Staff from each of MDOT’s seven regions will be able to select their own plow names from the list.

Police see rise in speeds during pandemic

Police see rise in speeds during pandemic

Police see dramatic rise in speeds, fatal crashes during pandemic

Listen now:

On this week’s edition of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, a conversation about why fatal crashes on Michigan roads in 2020 exceeded those in 2019, despite traffic volumes being significantly diminished because of the pandemic.

TMT - Rise in speeding and fatal crashes

Preliminary numbers indicate 1,032 people died from crashes on Michigan roads in 2020, while the number was 985 in 2019. This, despite traffic volumes being down as much as 60 percent in the weeks immediately following stay-home advisories from the outbreak and remaining down around 20 percent through the rest of the year.

MSP PIO Robinson

With many fewer vehicles on the roads and reduced congestion, experts speculate the open road contributed to higher speeds.

First, Michigan State Police Lt. DuWayne Robinson talks about what law enforcement officers are seeing across the state. As he told WWMT-TV in December, troopers had written 69 percent more tickets for excessive speeding, defined as 25 mph or more over the limit.

Peter Savolainen, MSU Professor

Later, Peter Savolainen, a Michigan State University professor and expert in traffic safety and traffic operations, talks about the impact speeds have on the severity of crashes. He says an age-old challenge confronts engineers who design roads and safety advocates in finding creative ways to alter driver behavior.

Savolainen also observes that speeds had been rising in Michigan in previous years: “Some of these concerns are exacerbated by the fact that we did increase speed limits across Michigan back in 2017. Speeds have gone up as a consequence of that. Crashes and fatalities have gone up as well.”

Because of the pandemic, vehicle miles traveled dropped an unprecedented 264.2 billion miles during the first half of 2020. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that’s 17 percent lower than the same period in 2019. NHTSA said deaths as a result of crashes fell 2 percent, but the rate of fatalities rose 18 percent.

As the Wall Street Journal observed, “In other words, an inordinate number of people died given how many fewer miles they traveled. It was the highest motor vehicle fatality rate for that span of time in a dozen years.”

Robinson photo courtesy of Michigan State Police.
Savolainen photo courtesy of Michigan State University, College of Engineering.

MDOT is naming snowplows and everyone can help

MDOT opens public comment period

MDOT E-mail

MDOT on facebook MDOT on Twitter MDOT on YouTube Mi Drive - Know before you go. MDOT on Instagram Sign up for E-mails form MDOT


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                 TUESDAY, JANUARY 5, 2021


CONTACT: Rob Morosi, MDOT Office of Communications,


MDOT opens public comment period on I-375

improvement project in Detroit


January 5, 2021 — The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) today opened the official 45-day comment period on the Environmental Assessment (EA) portion of the I-375 project in Detroit. The EA is part of the federal requirement process to receive clearance to transform the current outdated freeway into a street level urban boulevard. A formal public hearing and virtual outreach event will be held later this month.

Interested parties can submit formal comments on the project website at An online comment form is available to allow the public to voice their opinion on the recommended alternative. All comments received prior to Friday, Feb. 19, will be included in the official record. In addition to the website, options include e-mailing or mailing comments via US Mail postmarked by Feb. 19 to:


Attn: Monica Monsma

P.O. Box 30050

Lansing, MI 48909

The preferred alternative involves building a boulevard from Gratiot Avenue to Atwater Street, creating at-grade intersections at cross streets, realigning the I-75 freeway from Mack Avenue to Brush Street, and building a single-point urban interchange (SPUI) to access the boulevard from the interstate. The design includes features to make the corridor walkable, additional options for nonmotorized users and future placemaking opportunities for the city.


Police see rise in speeds during pandemic

MDOT year in review

MDOT year in review with Director Paul C. Ajegba

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On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, Michigan Department of Transportation Director Paul C. Ajegba talks about some of the big projects completed in 2020 as highlighted in this year-end video.

Director Ajegba Podcast

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer celebrated a significant milestone in her Rebuilding Michigan plan when she joined Director Ajegba to tour the first project financed with the bonds. That project rebuilt the aging I-496 freeway between I-96 and Lansing Road in Ingham and Eaton counties. Major work will begin on several other projects to be financed by the governor’s bonding plan in spring 2021. Gov. Whitmer talked about the plan on the podcast in January following the State Transportation Commission’s authorization.

Also, in early November, Gov. Whitmer joined the director to celebrate the reopening of the busy interchange of I-96, I-196 and East Beltline Avenue east of Grand Rapids. The Flip, as dubbed by the project team, will ease congestion in and out of the city and make for safer transitions between the freeways. As Robb Westaby at Fox17 observed, the new ramp and bridge eliminates the need for drivers to cross three lanes of traffic to get to the East Beltline Avenue exit.

Other notable projects in 2020 included rebuilding the 100th Street bridge over US-131 in Kent County, the I-75 modernization project in Oakland County, rebuilding US-131 in St. Joseph County, and rebuilding M-28 in Alger County.

The director also explains how Rebuilding Michigan and more aggressive road building is stoking competition in the construction industry, with preliminary evidence of stabilizing bid prices.

Other highlights:

  • MDOT inked a contract in August with Cavnue for a first-of-its-kind connected corridor between Detroit and Ann Arbor. As Fortune Magazine wrote, “The so-called road of the future, which was announced on Thursday by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, amounts to an ambitious bid to reconceive both transportation and public transit.”
  • On the Gordie Howe International Bridge project, MDOT real estate specialists marked a major milestone by acquiring the final parcels of land needed for construction of the bridge, ramps and plazas. This year-in-review video covers the highlights.

Listen now at

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Police see rise in speeds during pandemic

MDOT: Talking Michigan Transportation

Talking Michigan Transportation: Gordie Howe International Bridge and the future of Delray

Listen now:

This week on the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, conversations about the rich history of the Delray neighborhood in southwest Detroit and why an author and archivist believes building the Gordie Howe International Bridge (GHIB) is helping to fuel a rebirth of the community. Karen Dybis, who has been researching the history and culture of Delray for several years, talks about what she’s learned researching history and recording oral histories with residents.

TMT Gordie Howe

Later, Mohammed Alghurabi, the long-time Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) project manager on the GHIB, talks about the relationships he’s developed in the neighborhood over many years and his appreciation for the residents. Mohammed shared his background with other projects and his work on the GHIB on the podcast in 2019.

Mohammed Alghurabi

In an extensive Detroit News story (subscription) published Dec. 10, reporter Christine Ferretti wrote: “After more than a half-century of neglect, the industrialized southwest Detroit community in the footprint of the under-construction $4.4 billion Gordie Howe International Bridge is finally getting attention. The city is in the midst of what’s believed to be the first planning effort of its kind to help define Delray’s future with a mix of development to spur jobs and amenities for its long haulers.”

Also discussed: the ongoing redevelopment of the Detroit Riverfront and MDOT’s collaboration with other partners on projects that will enhance opportunities for pedestrians and cyclists from east of downtown to the multi-modal components of the GHIB.

Karen Dybis

Dybis also explains how the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority’s Community Benefits Plan promises to ensure economic, environmental and social benefits for residents and business owners in neighborhoods on both sides of the bridge.

As she told the News, “You expect the bridge to be the enemy or the bad guys, and they are so not. That’s the reason why things are getting better. They are actually trying to get money to people who haven’t had money in decades.”

Listen now at

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MDOT: Planning to clear snow from roads during a pandemic

MDOT: Planning to clear snow from roads during a pandemic

Planning to clear snow from roads during a pandemic

Listen now: 

On this week’s edition of Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, a discussion about how the pandemic could affect snowplowing. Gregg Brunner, director of MDOT’s Bureau of Field Services, talks about contingency planning for battling winter during a pandemic.

TMT winter maintenance

An Oct. 26 MDOT news release explained that the goal of MDOT and its partner agencies remains clearing highways to bare pavement as quickly as possible after a winter storm. If MDOT or local contract agencies are temporarily affected by COVID-19 infections or associated quarantines, it may take longer to reach this goal.

Gregg Brunner

Brunner talks about innovations in clearing snow and ice along with practices adopted by MDOT where winter maintenance officials are always looking for ways to stretch taxpayer dollars by making salt go further, which also provides environmental benefits. To that end, MDOT is working with the Montcalm County Road Commission to pilot the use of a brine mixture on one state route this winter.

Also, the Michigan House Transportation Committee reported a bill this week that would require MDOT to pilot a program on using organic additives to control ice and snow on roads. SB 379 would require MDOT to work with at least one road agency to look at substances, like sugar beet molasses, and submit a report on its findings no later than June 30, 2025. The results of the program would look at cost and environmental impacts, as well as develop best practices. The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.

A perennial question during winter storms is why more salt is not being used. Brunner explains how temperatures determine when salt is used and when it loses effectiveness.

Listen now at

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