Michigan's first "Flex Route" opens along U.S. 23 north of Ann Arbor

WASHTENAW COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - There are a couple new signs along U.S. 23 to signal the transition of Flex Routes.

The Michigan Department of Transportation unveiled the first Flex Route in the state this week. It includes widened shoulders on the median side in both directions that open temporarily during peak times and congestion.

While some are concerned what they mean for drivers, the Michigan Department of Transportation says it will be a simple transition and relieve some major issues.

"We were looking for a six-hour solution to a six-hour problem. Widening the roadway would be a 24 hour solution," said Mark Sweeney, who manages MDOT's service center in Brighton.

Widening a roadway with permanent lanes comes with a major price tag, that's why MDOT decided a Flex Route was the correct method to use.

"We started taking a closer look at the congestion that we were experiencing, such as on U.S. 23, and we identified that it's not a 24-hour problem," says Sweeney. "What we really have is more of a peak hour congestion problem."

Although a Flex Route may seem a little bit complicated, MDOT says the signage along the route is clear. If there is a green arrow, that means you're allowed to use the additional lane created on the shoulder while a red X means it is currently closed.

"Southbound in the morning from the Livingston County area down to the Ann Arbor area and in the afternoon it's going in the northbound direction where all those same people are going home," says Sweeney.

The flex route will be in effect along U.S. 23 from M-36 to M-14. For southbound in the morning it will be open from 6 to 9:30 a.m.

For northbound in the evening it will be open from 3 to 6 p.m.

MDOT is observing the Flex Route closely to determine whether it might be a solution on other stretches of roadway in the future.

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