Talking Michigan Transportation: Meet the patient

Talking Michigan Transportation: Meet the patient

Meet the patient, witty and always engaged MDOT social media administrator

On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, a conversation with Jesse Ball, who coordinates social media at the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

Listen now: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1374205/9360849-meet-the-patient-witty-and-always-engaged-mdot-social-media-administrator

TMT - Social Media Coordinator

Ball talks about his background, growing up in the Upper Peninsula, graduating from Michigan State University, then working in California and Michigan media markets. In 2008, he became MDOT’s first social media administrator.

Understanding that without engagement, social media is just media, Ball talks about the importance of connecting and going beyond one-way communication.

The department’s Office of Communication puts an emphasis on transparency and sharing information for people to understand often complex transportation challenges. Ball explains the satisfaction he draws from correcting misinformation and providing fact-based answers.

Because transportation touches everyone’s life everyday with so much work being done in plain sight, it is to be expected that people will have many questions and comments. Ball talks about working with people across the department – Planning, Finance, engineers in Transportation Service Centers across the state – to gather accurate and timely responses to myriad questions.

He also explains his random Van Halen reference in a recent Facebook conversation.

Walk to School Day and ACES Lace Up Together

Walk to School Day and ACES Lace Up Together

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Sharing on behalf of the Michigan Fitness Foundation.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 30, 2021

 

CONTACT

Katie Alexander
Director of Safe Routes to School
517-908-3830

Michigan Fitness Foundation Logo

 

Walk to School Day and ACES Lace Up Together

LANSING, MI — Michigan students will be joining schoolchildren from around the world to celebrate International Walk to School Day (W2SD) on Wednesday, October 6. Coordinated by the Michigan Fitness Foundation (MFF) Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program staff, over 300 schools across the state sign up to participate annually. This year, they have also added “The World’s Largest Exercise Class” known as All Children Exercise Simultaneously (ACES Day) to the event with generous support from Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan.

Organized by the Partnership for a Walkable America in 1997, Walk to School Day (W2SD) is a global event that encourages walkable communities. Founded in 1989, ACES Day is an international event created by the Youth Fitness Coalition to raise awareness about heart disease in children due to obesity.

“Bringing Walk to School Day and ACES Day together is a natural fit as we continue our mission to create safer and more physically active communities across Michigan,” said Michigan Fitness Foundation President and CEO Amy Ghannam. “Both events emphasize the importance of increasing fitness in children, while strengthening community connections between families and schools.”

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is an implementing agency for federally funded SRTS grant program through the U.S. Department of Transportation. SRTS is designed to promotes walking and bicycling to school through infrastructure improvements, engagement, tools, safety education, and incentives that encourage walking and bicycling to school.

“We look forward to Walk to School Day every year,” said MDOT Office of Economic Development Administrator Mike Kapp. “This community engagement event encourages healthy habits in children and promotes active transportation.”

Families, schools, and community organizations are invited to register for the blended event and participate in a way that best fits their needs and aligns with local public health guidance.  Over the years, registrants have created events such as a family walk to school, bike rodeo, yoga in the park, trail run, slow roll, or a walking parade.

To register, visit https://saferoutesmichigan.org/walk-to-school-day/. All registrants will receive planning resources.

Talking Michigan Transportation: Meet the patient

Michigan in the driver’s seat for electric vehicle charging

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer puts Michigan in the driver’s seat for electric vehicle charging

This week on the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, following two important announcements from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer solidifying Michigan’s commitment to electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, a conversation with two of the people helping to make the ideas a reality.

Listen now: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1374205/episodes/9252771-gov-gretchen-whitmer-puts-michigan-in-the-driver-s-seat-for-electric-vehicle-charging

TMT - EV Charging

First, Elsa Givan, an analyst at Silicon Foundry who is working with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Michigan’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, will talk about why this is a leapfrog moment for Michigan and the future of automated and electric vehicles. In a second segment, Michele Mueller, a senior project manager at MDOT, explains the Request for Proposals (RFP) process.

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, while participating in the opening ceremony at Motor Bella, the governor announced an initiative to develop the nation’s first wireless charging infrastructure on a public road in the U.S. The development of a wireless dynamic charging roadway in Michigan is a step toward addressing range anxiety and will accelerate the transition to all-electric transit fleets in Michigan and beyond.

On Wednesday, Sept. 22, at the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Mackinac Policy Conference, the governor followed up with two related announcements:

  • A “Lake Michigan EV Circuit,” a charging infrastructure network along Lake Michigan to support the region’s tourism industry; and
  • An initiative to prepare Michigan’s workforce for automotive mobility and electrification jobs and career pathways.

Givan explains why these EV announcements represent a leapfrog moment for Michigan and what other states are doing in the charging realm. She likens the charging initiative to the Cavnue project, suggesting this project gives Michigan the ability to rapidly accelerate its electrification strategy by adopting a technology on the five to 10-year mass-adoption horizon.

She also predicts that as automated EVs become the national standard, consumer expectations will shift toward complementary automated charging infrastructure, unlocking massive time and cost efficiencies for commercial freight, public transit, and private transportation.

Underscoring the economic and work force development imperative, Givan says that in order to “own the future of mobility, Michigan must place bold bets on electrification innovation.” Projects like the Electric Avenue signal to the private sector that the state is the most conducive and supportive environment nationwide for EV companies to launch and scale their businesses, which in turn leads to new high-paying jobs in the mobility sector and economic growth.

Michele Mueller

Later, MDOT’s Mueller joins the podcast to explain her role in overseeing the RFP for the wireless charging roadway concept. She explains why Michigan offers a holistic and supportive environment for developing charging technology and the collaboration among several state agencies.

Mueller also touts MDOT’s other pioneering efforts in mobility like Mcity at the University of Michigan and the American Center for Mobility as effective examples of those partnerships.

Because the RFP process encourages creativity and allows for developing innovative solutions, the expectation is for a number of companies to seize the opportunity to try out their concepts.

Mueller further underscores Givan’s comments about the value of this process providing myriad opportunities for companies here in Michigan to utilize and test their technology in a live environment.

Podcast photo: Elsa Givan, analyst at Silicon Foundry. Photo courtesy of Silicon Foundry.

Second portrait: Michele Mueller, MDOT senior project manager Connected and Automated Vehicles.

Listen now at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1374205.

Stay connected by subscribing to Talking Michigan Transportation e-mail updates.

Final Adopt-A-Highway cleanup of year starts Saturday

Final Adopt-A-Highway cleanup of year starts Saturday

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                        MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2021 

CONTACT: Dan Weingarten, MDOT Office of Communications, 906-250-4809
                      WeingartenD@Michigan.gov

Final Adopt-A-Highway cleanup of year starts Saturday

Fast facts:
– The final Adopt-A-Highway cleanup of the year is Sept. 25-Oct. 3.
– Adopt-A-Highway volunteers collect more than 60,000 bags of litter annually.
– Sections of highway are still available to adopt. Go to www.Michigan.gov/AdoptAHighway for more information.

September 20, 2021 — Motorists should be on the lookout as thousands of Adopt-A-Highway volunteers in the popular Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) program fan out across the state to collect litter along highway roadsides from Saturday, Sept. 25, through Sunday, Oct. 3.

This is the third and final scheduled pickup period of the year.

Every year, Adopt-A-Highway volunteers regularly collect more than 60,000 bags of trash. The popular program began in 1990 and has grown to involve more than 2,900 groups cleaning 6,000 miles of highway.

Beginning Saturday, volunteers wearing high-visibility, yellow-green safety vests will clear up their adopted stretches of highway. MDOT provides free vests and trash bags, and arranges to haul away the trash.

Getting involved in the program is easy. Volunteers include members of civic groups, businesses and families. Crew members have to be at least 12 years old and each group must number at least three people. Groups are asked to adopt a section of highway for at least two years; there is no fee to participate. Adopt-A-Highway volunteer groups are recognized with signs bearing a group’s name posted along stretches of adopted highway.

Sections of highway are still available for adoption. Interested groups should check the MDOT Adopt-A-Highway website at www.Michigan.gov/AdoptAHighway for more information and the name of their county’s coordinator, who can specify available roadsides.

Another bridge hit, another freeway closed

Another bridge hit, another freeway closed

Another bridge hit, another freeway closed

Last week, after inspectors discovered severe damage to a bridge that carries rail cars over the US-23 freeway near Milan, Michigan, engineers made the difficult decision to close the road and pursue emergency repairs. The damage came to light upon a more in-depth inspection of the bridge that revealed severe structural damage from a high-load hit involving a truck traveling underneath in late August.

Listen now: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1374205/9208140-another-bridge-hit-another-freeway-closed

TMT - Another bridge hit

As Pew Trust research underscored in 2019, “so-called bridge strikes occur all over the country when trucks or their loads are too tall to pass under highway bridges and overpasses. They damage valuable infrastructure, create epic traffic jams and can be hazardous for other drivers who may be pelted with fallen debris or forced to swerve into another car.”

Matt Chynoweth, chief bridge engineer for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), joins the podcast to explain the sequence of events and why the busy freeway needed to be closed. He also talks about the bridge engineers’ efforts to move quickly on emergency repairs, acknowledging the inconvenience to commuters who rely on the freeway every day, as well as freight haulers traveling farther north or south on the freeway.

The bridge is owned by the railroad and is important to the movement of freight. It is more than 80 years old, pre-dating the conversion of the original two-lane US-23 into a freeway. Chynoweth explains why the jurisdiction for railroad bridges is different than vehicle bridges that carry local roads over or under state-owned highways.

As of the podcast recording on Thursday, Sept. 16, MDOT officials were waiting to open bids and award a contract for the emergency repairs necessary to make the bridge safe for vehicles to pass underneath.

Chynoweth also talks about the importance of truck drivers planning their routes and obtaining permits for oversize loads. In Michigan, a permit is required for objects and/or vehicles at 13 feet, 6 inches or higher.

Know the height of your load


Podcast photo shows the Ann Arbor railroad bridge above US-23 near Milan. The view shows the yellow northbound bridge height sign.

Listen now at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1374205.

Stay connected by subscribing to Talking Michigan Transportation e-mail updates.

Talking Michigan Transportation: Meet the patient

Measuring bridge conditions across the country

Measuring bridge conditions across the country and progress in Michigan

Coming off the successful return of a cool Michigan tradition, the Mackinac Bridge walk on Labor Day, this week’s podcast revisits the condition of our state’s other bridges and some creative proposals to fund replacement and repair of state and local structures.

Listen now: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1374205/9171344-measuring-bridge-conditions-across-the-country-and-progress-in-michigan

TMT - Measuring bridge conditions

First, for some national perspective, a conversation with experts in performance management and bridge conditions at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO): Patricia Bush, AASHTO’s program manager for bridges and design, and Matthew Hardy, AASHTO’s program director for planning and performance management.

Matt Chynoweth

Later, Matt Chynoweth, chief bridge engineer at the Michigan Department of Transportation, talks about a pilot bridge bundling program for local agencies. An MDOT dashboard tracks the progress.

Patricia Bush, AASHTO

Bush explains why terms for bridge conditions, like structurally deficient and functionally obsolete, were abandoned, with discussion now focusing simply on conditions being good, fair or poor. She also talks about the condition of the nation’s bridges, overall, and what goes into decisions to close a bridge. Bush cites the decision to close a Memphis bridge in May after inspectors found a crack in the steel structure.

Matthew Hardy, AASHTO planning and performance program director

Hardy explains how performance management informs decisions and why all states must use the national bridge reporting measures. He also lays out the reasons for following asset management principles in making decisions about a transportation network.

Offering a focus on Michigan bridge conditions, Chynoweth explains how a decision two decades ago to focus on asset management has helped conserve resources and address state-owned bridges more efficiently. He also talks about some major bridge projects MDOT engineers are tackling this summer, including a bridge over M-55 near Manistee, which MDOT Director Paul C. Ajegba visited this week.

Director Ajegba at the M-55 bridge project near Manistee

MDOT Director Paul Ajegba talks to engineers at the M-55 bridge site near Manistee, Michigan.


First portrait: Matt Chynoweth, MDOT chief bridge engineer

Second portrait: Patricia Bush, AASHTO’s program manager for bridges and design (Photo courtesy of Mario Olivero with AASHTO.)

Third portrait: Matthew Hardy, AASHTO’s program director for planning and performance management (Photo courtesy of Matthew Hardy.)

Listen now at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1374205.

Stay connected by subscribing to Talking Michigan Transportation e-mail updates.