WASHTENAW COUNTY (WJRT) (11/13/2017) - A new traffic management system new to Michigan is opening north of Ann Arbor this week.
The Michigan Department of Transportation plans to open the new "Flex Route" along U.S. 23 north of Ann Arbor featuring widened median shoulders that can be used as travel lanes when traffic is congested.
The Flex Route involves overhead signs, cameras and electronic message boards that detect traffic congestion and open the flex lanes when needed.
A green arrow on the overhead signs will indicate when the median shoulder is safely available for use. 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 is well known for our work on connected vehicles and having connected roadways will help us maintain our global leadership in mobility," Gov. Rick Snyder said. "The new Flex Route technology is a winning combination for traffic management, convenience and safety."
Widening the shoulders to temporarily accommodate traffic during peak periods cost substantially less than building a third permanent travel lane in each direction, according to MDOT. The Flex Route lanes were built as part of a $92 million project that also included bridge and ramp repairs.
MDOT says the Flex Route should cut travel time in half when the additional lanes are open for traffic. It also should reduce the number of secondary crashes that happen in traffic backups behind other crashes.