MDOT tests zipper merge method to ease work zone traffic

MICHIGAN, (WJRT) - Michigan is know for its construction filled summers-- but MDOT is trying to ease the stress of work zones with a new merge method.

It can be a nightmare trying to navigate around the orange barrels in busy construction zones-- but MDOT says the Zipper merge could ease traffic and make driving through the zones go quicker.

"The idea behind the zipper merge is an idea of advanced signing that lets drivers know they can stay in the open available lanes now-- and gives you an actual point where it says, 'merge now'," says MDOT Bay Region's Jocelyn Hall.

Instead of what we normally see where drivers are often merging as soon as they see the first sign. In certain cases MDOT says it creates a bigger back up than there should be.

"By keeping traffic traveling in both of the open lanes, it keeps backs up from extending so far," said Hall. "That can be frustrating for drivers to sit in bumper to bumper traffic, that's an aggravating feeling for them."

The zipper method is one that only works if drivers obey the signs and allow the closing lane to merge when needed.

"We need motorists to be reading those signs and obviously obeying the instructions," said Hall. "So that would mean, whoever is in the open lanes needs to allow a spot for people to come over. If those things don't happen the zipper merge wont work effectively."

The zipper merge is currently being tested on 2 projects in the MDOT Grand region of western Michigan-- MDOT Bay region says if they see success they hope to use the merge method on future projects.