A second Flex Route takes shape in Michigan

A second Flex Route takes shape in Michigan

A second Flex Route takes shape in Michigan, easing daily commutes for thousands

On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, a conversation with Brian Travis, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) project manager on the I-96 Flex Route in western Oakland County.

Listen now: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1374205/10922972-a-second-flex-route-takes-shape-in-michigan-easing-daily-commutes-for-thousands

TMT - Flex Route

The $269 million project, allowing for the use of shoulders as travel lanes during peak travel times, is MDOT’s second use of the traffic innovation. In 2016 and 2017, contractors built the first phase of a Flex Route, a $125 million investment on US-23 north of Ann Arbor.

Brian Travis

project is in design now for a second phase, at an estimated cost of $146 million, to extend the Flex Route from north of 8 Mile Road to I-96.

Travis says the Oakland County project is on schedule and talks about the three-year timeline. He also touts the safety and efficiency benefits the added capacity during peak travel hours will provide.

Funding for this project is made possible by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Rebuilding Michigan program to rebuild the state highways and bridges that are critical to the state’s economy and carry the most traffic. The investment strategy is aimed at fixes that result in longer useful lives and improves the condition of the state’s infrastructure.

A second Flex Route takes shape in Michigan

Extreme speeds during the pandemic captures police attention

Extreme speeds during the pandemic captures police attention

In response to a dramatic increase in speeding drivers beginning with the pandemic stay-at-home advisories in 2020 and continuing now, traffic safety experts and law enforcement officials are working to understand the behavior.

On this week’s edition of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, Carol Flannagan, director of the Center for Management of Information for Safe and Sustainable Transportation (CMISST) at the  University of Michigan (UM) and research professor at UM’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), talks about her research and theories about the epidemic of speeding and other risky behavior.

Listen now: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1374205/10830605-extreme-speeds-during-the-pandemic-captures-police-attention

TMT - Extreme Speeds

This comes as the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are once again partnering on a regional traffic safety campaign. As noted in their news release: “As part of the ‘Great Lakes, High Stakes’ campaign, dozens of municipal, county and Michigan State Police (MSP) law enforcement agencies across Michigan will focus on speeding drivers between June 18 and 26.” 

Among other topics, Flannagan talks about the challenging decisions for auto manufacturers in rolling out automated vehicle (AV) technology. She acknowledges that it’s much easier for AVs to communicate and predict what other vehicles will do rather than what humans will do.

She also discusses:

  • Effectiveness of high-visibility enforcement and impacts on driver behavior.
  • Crash stats. From 2011 to 2019, fatalities were flat, but in July 2020 the rate of speeding-related fatalities spiked.
  • Frontal automatic emergency braking is effective, reducing frontal crashes by 50 percent.
  • Manufacturers have been shifting from warning systems for drivers to automatic systems, which is much more effective.

Also discussed, the resistance and challenges to acceptance of Advance Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and projections for broad adoption. Just this week, the NHTSA released data on the topic, but there are concerns about context.

And a reference to a supercut video of Elon Musk predicting the timeframe for broad deployment of AV technology.


Podcast photo: Carol A. Flannagan, Ph.D., Research Professor, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).

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

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

200 millionth vehicle crosses the Mackinac Bridge

200 millionth vehicle crosses the Mackinac Bridge

MBA header July 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     MEDIA CONTACT

June 15, 2022                                                                           James Lake

906-250-0993

LakeJ1@Michigan.gov

200 millionth vehicle crosses the Mackinac Bridge 

Fast facts:

– At 6:18 p.m. on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, the Dalman family of Tawas City drove the 200 millionth vehicle across the Mackinac Bridge since its opening on Nov. 1, 1957.    

– On Sept. 6, 2009, Richard Snyder of Clare, Michigan, drove the 150 millionth vehicle across the bridge.

ST. IGNACE, Mich. ­ It was a chance occurrence, but it still makes for a cool story.

After driving the 200 millionth vehicle across the Mackinac Bridge at 6:18 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, the Dalman family of Tawas City now has the bragging rights and the sole claim to this milestone. Kurt Dalman was driving, with passengers Anna Dalman, and their children, Seth and Teresa.

“We’re headed to Pictured Rocks. This will be the kids’ first big hike,” Anna Dalman said. “We were very surprised. We had no idea (this milestone was coming up).”

Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) Chairman Patrick “Shorty” Gleason, member Caroline Cheeseman, and MBA staff met the Dalmans outside on the toll plaza after they drove their 2021 Toyota Corolla hybrid through the booths, paying $4 cash in the northbound direction. They presented the family a framed print of the Mackinac Bridge, while Amy Millard, executive director of the Mackinaw City Chamber of Commerce, and Lora Brown, executive director of the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau, gave them a gift basket full of local items.

“It’s our customers who pay the tolls that support the ongoing operation and maintenance of the Mackinac Bridge, so it’s only right that we recognize this milestone in the bridge’s 65-year history,” Gleason said on the occasion. “The bridge has been a critical connection for our state for more than six decades now, but it’s remarkable to know that so many vehicles, and countless more people, have crossed in that time.”

On Sept. 6, 2009, Richard Snyder of Clare, Michigan, drove the 150 millionth vehicle across the bridge.

Construction on the Mackinac Bridge began in May 1954 and the completed structure was opened to traffic on Nov. 1, 1957. The MBA’s sole source of funding is from tolls and fees collected, with all revenue used to maintain, operate and protect the bridge. More information about the bridge can be found at www.MackinacBridge.org.

 

Photo caption information:

Mackinac Bridge 200 millionth vehicle.jpg – The Dalman family of Tawas City, far right, received a local gift basket and a framed print of the Mackinac Bridge after they drove the 200 millionth vehicle across the bridge. Left to right: MBA Chief Bridge Engineer Julie Neph; Mackinaw City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amy Millard; St. Ignace Visitors Bureau Executive Director Lora Brown; MBA Member Caroline Cheeseman; MBA Chairman Patrick “Shorty” Gleason; Seth Dalman; Anna Dalman; Teresa Dalman; and Kurt Dalman.

A second Flex Route takes shape in Michigan

Funding roads like public utilities – through user fees

Funding roads like public utilities — through user fees

The fuel tax has long been the preferred method of funding road building and repair in the United States, as this brief history outlines. That has been the case in Michigan for nearly a century, with fees for registering vehicles also contributing to the funding pool.

Listen now: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1374205/10764139-funding-roads-like-public-utilities-through-user-fees

Talking Michigan Transportation podcast player - Road funding

A recent study on mileage-based user fees (MBUF) observes that the gas tax was a benefits tax based on the users-pay/users-benefit principle, meaning the tax is paid in proportion to the benefits received. Someone who drives a lot receives more benefit from the roads than someone who drives less frequently. People who drive more also put more stress on the pavement. The study, completed by the Reason Foundation and the Michigan-based Mackinac Center, provides an outline for how to rethink road funding, in light of diminishing returns from fuel taxes as fuel economy improves and major automakers shift to building more electric vehicles.

Baruch Feigenbaum Portrait

On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, Baruch Feigenbaum, senior managing director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation, talks about the study. Later, Aarne Frobom, a senior policy analyst at the Michigan Department of Transportation, offers his perspective.

Aarne Frobom Portrait

Among discussion points:

• Is it time to rethink transportation funding and treat roads as public utilities with a similar rate-making process?
• Would an MBUF be subject to periodic increases when justified by increased operating and capital costs, via a public process?
• What’s in it for the driver?
• How many old systems of assessing fees and taxes would this alleviate?
• Could this finally separate road-user fees from fuel prices?

The discussion comes as Section 615 of House Bill 5791 asks MDOT to conduct a study of the feasibility of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) as a basis for transportation funding in replacement of motor fuel taxes.


Podcast photo: I-75 in Otsego County viewed from Winters Road overpass.

First portrait: Baruch Feigenbaum, senior managing director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation.

Second portrait: Aarne Frobom, a senior policy analyst at the Michigan Department of Transportation.

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

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

MDOT virtual open house June 16

MDOT virtual open house June 16

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     MEDIA CONTACT

June 7, 2022                                                                            Rob Morosi

                                                                                                   248-361-6288

MorosiR@Michigan.gov

MDOT virtual open house June 16 to discuss Second Avenue bridge slide over I-94 in Detroit

Detroit, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) invites the public to attend a virtual open house regarding the upcoming Second Avenue bridge slide over I-94 in Detroit. The bridge slide is expected to take place in mid-July. During this virtual event, there will be a brief presentation on how the bridge slide will occur, the duration of the I-94 closure, and detours, followed by a question-and-answer session.

Who:

MDOT staff and project consultants

Interested residents and local stakeholders

When/Where:

Thursday, June 16, 2022 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Zoom virtual public meeting: click here for zoom meeting

To join by phone without using internet, call toll free: 877-853-5247

Webinar ID: 874 7727 4329

Passcode: 807595

Thursday, June 16, 2022

5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Zoom virtual public meeting: click here for zoom meeting

To join by phone without using internet, call toll free: 877-853-5247

Webinar ID: 842 3797 6290

Passcode: 620154

Accessibility:

Accommodations can be made for persons who require mobility, visual, hearing, written, or other assistance for participation. Large print materials, auxiliary aids or the services of interpreters, signers, or readers are available upon request. Please contact Orlando Curry at 517-241-7462 or complete Form 2658 for American Sign Language (ASL) located on the Title VI webpage: https://www.Michigan.gov/MDOT/Programs/Title-VI. Requests should be made at least five days prior to the meeting date. Reasonable efforts will be made to provide the requested accommodation or an effective alternative, but accommodations may not be guaranteed.

Project information:

The original Second Avenue overpass was built in 1954. The new bridge will be the first network tied arch structure in the state of Michigan. Network refers to the cables that are crossed from the top of the arch to the bottom of the structure on each side. The skeleton of the new bridge was built offsite at Wayne State University and will be rolled into place using self-propelled modular transports. Both directions of I-94 will need to be closed between I-75 and M-10 (Lodge Freeway) for seven days during bridge slide work, anticipated to begin Sunday, July 10.

A second Flex Route takes shape in Michigan

Rail director touts opportunities presented by Sec. Buttigieg

MDOT rail director touts opportunities presented by Sec. Buttigieg announcements

On Thursday, June 2, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced Thursday in Michigan $368 million in rail infrastructure and safety grants to 46 projects in 32 states, with about $30 million flowing to Michigan.

Listen now: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1374205/10732129-mdot-rail-director-touts-opportunities-presented-by-sec-buttigieg-announcements

TMT - Sec Pete announces rail grants

On this week’s edition of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, Peter Anastor, who directs the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Office of Rail, talks about the economic benefits to the rail companies and businesses they serve.

Buttigieg made the case for the grants in an op/ed published in the Detroit Free Press:

President Biden tasked us with strengthening our supply chains, speeding the movement of people and goods, increasing production, and helping usher in newer, cleaner and cheaper energy – all of which will lower costs for families. And thanks to the president’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we have the resources we need to do just that.

MDOT Rail Peter Anastor

The grants include $21.3 million for a proposed project to improve track and rail assets operated by the Great Lakes Central Railroad just north of Ann Arbor, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

The second grant of up to $8.7 million will go to the West Michigan Railroad Co. to pay for infrastructure improvements on roughly 10 miles of track in southwest Michigan.

Anastor also discusses other exciting improvements going on with passenger rail service in Michigan, including ongoing enhancements on the Detroit-Chicago corridor to increase speeds to 110 mph. Elsewhere, advocacy continues for Traverse City-to-Ann Arbor passenger rail service.

Secretary Pete announces rail infrastructure and safety grants

U.S. Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg was in Michigan this week to make several transportation announcements.


Podcast photo: A blue Great Lakes Central Railroad freight train in the Selma & Tufford rail yard in Cadillac, Michigan.

Portrait: Peter Anastor, Michigan Department of Transportation’s Office of Rail director.

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

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