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Michigan radio is built on listener our support now. During our membership drive is a great time to make a gift at Michigan Radio.org and thanks route that runs along 9mi of US 23 north of Ann Arbor is winning praise from outside Michigan , the US 23 flax route has won a regional award . It’s now up for a national award . Let’s talk more about this unique highway project , and whether we could see it replicated elsewhere in the state , as we say hello to Jeff Kranz and with the Michigan Department of Transportation . Jeff , good to have you with us . Hi . Cindy . Thanks for having me . So let’s get everybody who’s listening all around the state who perhaps never has set foot on US 23 just what the flax rowdy is because this is the first one in Michigan as an .
It is , it’s in the trade , it’s actually called active traffic management , which means it’s a way of managing traffic we didn’t want this to be called ATM because that counters other things obviously does , so we came up with a name unique to Michigan flex route and we hope that brand can be useful other places where now that we know this is a success. Maybe there’s other places in the state this . This could be used , it’s environmentally much safer less expensive way to add extra capacity without actually having to ask delaying it would have cost probably 4 times as much as the $120 million it cost to make a shoulder available certain times of the day . So basically the Flex route allows you to use the shoulder during peak traffic times . So in the morning . Obviously that’s when people are coming Indiana Harbor in the afternoon . That’s when people are living in our .
Well , I’m going to be full confession here I drive it every single day , and I’ve watched this since we had available in November. So I know as I’m driving to Ann Arbor in the morning and out of Ann Arbor that at that peak time there’s a gantry overhead and there is an arrow pointing to that left shoulder and there’s either an axe red acts for do not drive or a green arrow that says , feel free to drive . So that’s not a full regular lane on that left side .
Right in it and it and it can’t be the Federal Highway Administration wouldn’t allow that you still need a shoulder most of the time , you know , for safety reasons for cars to pull off. And that’s why there are designated pull off spots if you do have car trouble . I’m sure you’ve seen them . Yes , if you go by . But , yeah , that’s , that’s the reason they allow it as long as it’s used . You know just for peak times to to help capacity , what the , again the people in the trade call operations , which I know seems unusual does because we feel like we’re the operators of the car , but they’re talking about operating the system , you know , it’s all a lot of people spend a lot of time and I am doubt in other departments transportation around the country trying to figure out how to ease your commute how on limit your delays because the time stuck in traffic is lost time it’s lost money for all of us . Yes . So this is a method they came up with the say let’s alleviate . One of the biggest pinch points in the state . Basically , some of the highest congestion was on US 23 Northumbria Arbor and it’s and it’s largely done that it’s it’s worked better , I think that a lot of people’s wildest dreams in terms of what it’s done to eliminate their congestion . I mean , you see it yourself . Yeah .
So in essence , it’s almost like that steam valve I remember and my mother’s pressure cooker. So when that when the steam gets heavy meaning at the peak times you can turn on that Val Vince .
Yeah , that’s a good metaphor. Yeah , that’s what it does it releases that at the , at the , at the peak times and you know people still ask obviously why can’t I use it all the time . And as I explained , because the Federal Highway Administration would say now you still need a shoulder most of the time you just we’re going to allow you to use it .
And I ask , why can’t we have it everywhere. Yeah . What .
I mean everywhere and and maybe you know 96 in in western Oakland County would be candidate Nick sort of the same spots around Grand Rapids that could be good candidates maybe on US 1-31 and I think there’s other places in the state. Now that we know this works and that people have adapted to it very well I think that you’re going to see this application be available place isn’t it and it’s a great idea because long term , we don’t know what we’re going to need in terms of capacity , you know with automated vehicles coming . You know if people could be driverless cars could be . We have more on the road because it allows more people mobility but it could be fewer because you’re tightening up the spaces and all the things that make for an efficient traffic flow , so ultimately you don’t use much capacity and certainly you maybe don’t need the lane wits . So right now would be an odd time to be spending a lot of money to add capacity anyway . And you know we’re becoming a more multi-modal stay right there . Still , people that want do commuter rail and there still people who want to do you know be and you know the RDA in southeast Michigan could lead to better bussing someday yesterday . Yes . So do we need to add capacity , which is very expensive and as an environmental challenge you know to take planes and worry about endangered species both plants and animals in those things . So this was a way to use what was it the existing footprint , that’s what I want is capacity .
So that was the existing footprint , but just it’s reconfigured yes they’re called with this kind of interesting regulation size shoulder that we can drive liar for these sir and it’s.
All the things that we all wrestle with road because we all look in the mirror and seen environmentalist and we’d all like to think that we’re doing the right thing , but we’re still a state that was built to get wherever we want to get , you know , in 20 minutes or an hour or whatever you think your commute is you think it should always be there , and those are the the conveniences that we expect.
What is it faster doing that kind of.
Yes absolutely said would have been a long environmental process and a long process of buying right of way and building another lane. Yeah . Would have taken a lot longer .
So can people listening other rap yeah you mentioned west side of Michigan. We’ve got people living in the thumb area who are listening and and Northern Michigan . So is it safe to say everyone at m.is pleased enough with how the US 20 reflects lanes have performed that we could see them elsewhere .
Definitely can’t promise where the next one will be in little be tomorrow , but it’s definitely a model that should be emulated. They’ve done it , and some other states with some success and we weren’t sure how it would work here and it’s worked very well .
What was it about US 23 that made M Dacko. This is the spot . You know I think .
It’s it’s kind of innovative thinking of some of the engineers here in what is called the university region and the people that are looking at at the pinch points and and what they can do , I mean , I mean there a real role , the folks in this area out of the the Brighton transportation service center. I mean , first they did the 96-23 reconfiguration which you know is also worked great alleviated a lot of , a lot of safety concerns . When you were merging and changing from one free to the other and then right on the heels of that they completed this project and I think I was just looking at at various pinch points and and creative solutions and that was one where they thought this could work .
And what did what did the numbers told US fire is how well it’s worked is that , is that something you can measure and something that there there’s a metric.
4 there there is and I haven’t seen the most recent numbers by there. The biggest measure is that you’re not seeing the backups that you used to see so that the actual percentages are out there and there’s there’s reports actually that are becoming coming out very soon that give prescribe really hard numbers on that .
Went from , I know the route is one of our 12 finalists in the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials America’s transportation awards , is this kind of like the Emmys or the Oscars for road project well.
Sort of his except in this case , there is a People’s Choice element to it and you know some states that are bigger have done better in these contests before then. We have in Michigan and so that’s why I really kinda wanna encourage people , if you like it if you drive it vote . And you can do that you can get on our website . It’s actually America’s transportation awards , but you can go to Michigan.GOV/am diet and you’ll see it right there on the homepage and a chance that you can vote . And you can vote , more than once every 24 hours . You’re allowed to vote . So if you really like it and you want to do something good for Michigan . You know this this this makes us look good in terms of innovation and I’m thinking the social media engagement in the Ann Arbor area where this is very popular could be helpful and maybe we can catch Florida and some of the bigger states that always seem to do so well in these contests .
Overall , how do you think this US 23 flax rout process how how is it changed the way Michigan might think of solving safety issues in road can drive.
Think that’s just I think we have to think very innovative way , I think the divergent diamond interchanges , which we’ve done 2 of now in the state. You’re probably familiar with the one in in Auburn Hills University Drive and I-75 they’re kinda thing it first seems a little counterintuitive to people , but once you drive through it , you think . Wow , this , this is great traffic flows too much safer , so there’s this all kinds of issues . You know , we’ve done the bridge slides were they build a bridge right next to the existing one and then overnight . They basically demolish one and slide one into place . I mean it’s kind of the good and the bad of having this long-term funding challenge in Michigan , you know that we’ve under funded infrastructure so you know necessity invention . So these people get innovative . I think what can we do with the money we have and then you would be victims of your own success rate , because if you can keep doing these things , then maybe you don’t need more money , but I can tell you that the state definitely needs to spend more on transportation .
All right , so people can go to the M.website. If they want to express their pleasure and put in a vote . Yeah , put in a vote . Yeah , absolutely . Jeff Kranz and Michigan Department of Transportation . Thanks so much . You’re welcome . The winners of America’s best transportation projects will be announced this Sunday September 20 3rd voting closes at 11:59 PM Eastern time on Saturday the 22nd in Cranston did get back with numbers , he said . In general for South 23 in the morning . They’re seeing a 56% improvement in planning time which is a measure of the reliability or dependability of the system . So basically the time you need to give yourself for a trip if you need to be at your destination on time for north bound during the afternoon peak , that number is 27% improvement in planning time this is state style stay with us and you’re listening to stateside and Michigan radio 91.7 Ann Arbor Detroit 91.1 Flint 1 0 4.1 . A West Michigan President Trump has announced new tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports . We have to do something we have a tremendous trade imbalance with China tremendous trade deficit . China has already imposed tariffs of its own how a trade war could impact .