Michigan Leads Development of Smart Roadways

Michigan is looking to lead the nation in developing smart road technology that will allow intersection signals and construction zones to alert next generation vehicles about upcoming red lights, lane closures, and traffic areas ahead. According to The Detroit News, General Motors and Macomb County, Michigan have partnered up to begin testing smart road safety features that can tell future cars to begin braking when traffic lights are about to turn red. Michigan has also begun testing 'connected construction zones' on Interstate 75 in Oakland County that can alert cars with 'vehicle-infrastructure-capability' about upcoming lane closures. Vehicle-infrastructure-capability allows vehicles to communicate with roadways, construction zones and traffic signals through smart technology.

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These 'connected construction zones' operate by advanced-tech roadside bar codes that are able to communicate information from construction zones to oncoming vehicles. These smart traffic signal systems can even tell the difference between construction workers from traffic barrels for the safety of both the worker and driver as well. Reportedly, these roadside bar codes are intended to be the system that will navigate autonomous vehicles in the future. Michigan has already established 100 miles of connected roadways and plans to expand to 350 miles in the future. Automakers and auto suppliers alike in Southeast Michigan have already begun planning for this transition by testing autonomous vehicle technology on Michigan roadways.

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Citizens of Michigan who are interested in knowing what these road signals look like, should look out for bar codes signs with black and white 2D codes that have been implemented on I-75 in Oakland County. These signs appear to be QR codes that can be scanned by smartphones, however, they can only be read by test cars with vehicle-infrastructure intuition. 3M Company provided these signs for Michigan, and Tammy Meehan, global portfolio manager for 3M Connected Roads, explains that these signs contain pinpoint GPS navigation, can alert vehicles of upcoming construction zones, and can estimate the time it takes to drive through work zones. These smart traffic signal systems can even tell the difference between construction workers from traffic barrels for the safety of both the worker and driver as well. 

Outside the GM Tech Center in Warren, advanced technology has been implemented into traffic lights by Macomb County on Mound Road between 12 Mile Road and 13 Mile Road. These lights are able communicate with Cadillac CTS test sedans that possess vehicle-infrastructure capability. The Detroit News reports that the smart traffic signals and sensors calculate the driver’s speed and the time in which the traffic signal will turn red, to determine if the driver needs to begin braking. In such a case, a yellow light glows on the driver’s infotainment screen and their seat begins vibrating. This is intended to prevent the driver from running the red light or crashing into another vehicle.  The smart traffic signals work within a 1,000-foot radius.

Mark Hackel, Macomb County Executive, stated that for the past five years Macomb's infrastructure department has been installing advanced sensors and cameras to develop smart highways. Hackel explains that the partnership with GM, in addition to the $13.5 million-dollar creation of the Communications and Technology Center (COMTEC) that opened in Mount Clemens in 2013, have been a part of the County’s ongoing infrastructure investments. COMTEC has allowed for the development of Michigan traffic-monitoring, weather-mapping, road-department cameras, and a video wall with 40 monitors.

Kirk Steudle, Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, stated that Michigan continues to partner with automakers and suppliers for the research and development of autonomous vehicles and smart technology. Kirk claims that advanced vehicle-infrastructure communication could reduce 80% of car accident fatalities.

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While Michigan making great headway, it is not alone in its efforts to develop smart roadways. Other states, including Ohio, have begun testing and implementing connected roadways as well. Ohio has decided to invest $15 million into developing the U.S. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor using advanced fiber-optic cables and wireless sensors for connected roadway and autonomous vehicle testing. Ohio plans to expand connected roadways to I-270 and I-90 as well.

The smart technology innovation that Michiganders are experiencing before them will transform the way we mobilize, by making transportation far more efficient and safer. The ability for autonomous vehicles and connected highways to communicate may greatly reduce car accident fatalities in the future. Yet, it will still be some time before Michigan citizens are able to experience this transformation. In the meanwhile, The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC will continue to update blog readers on the development of smart roadway technology and its effects on drivers in Michigan and across the country.

Whether you've been involved in an auto accident with with a driverless car or were struck by a negligent driver, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM. for a free consultation. Our firm assists victims of car accidents in recouping any benefits they may be entitled to under Michigan law.

Detroit To Downriver I-75 Closure

The two-year closure on I-75 has been underway since February 2017. The repairs come in light of a 50-year-old crumbling bridge over the Rouge River and will cost the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) up to $165 million. The Detroit News reports that the closure is 8 miles long down the southbound side from Springwells in Detroit to Northline in Southgate. MDOT expects to disrupt over 100,000 motorists a day until the project is completed in October 2018. 

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Rouge River Bridge

The bridge is stated to be in such disrepair that concrete has been seen falling from it and in certain spots the damage is visible through the deck. That is why The Detroit Free Press says that, "All 20 football fields' worth of concrete" is planned on being removed. MDOT plans to install electronic sensors, cameras, and message boards on the newly renovated bridge.

“The I-75 Rouge River bridge is vital to the flow of commerce and commuters in Southeast Michigan,” said Kirk Steudle, director of MDOT. “We know the bridge deck replacement will cause some inconvenience, but safety is our top priority, and this work will extend the life of this heavily traveled bridge..."

Alternative Routes

For those motorists who don't frequently travel on southbound I-75 or for those searching for alternative routes, MDOT has some suggestions:

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  • Local traffic is encouraged to take Fort Street or Jefferson Avenue since they run parallel to I-75. Other southbound streets that run parallel to I-75 are also a good option. 
  • Truckers are advised to take westbound I-96 to southbound I-275 and back to southbound I-75. 
  • Despite it not being the first choice due to already heavy traffic, drivers can take I-94 to I-275 or Telegraph Road.  
  • Drivers can also choose to head west on Northline Road in Southgate and merge onto I-75 from there or take Dixie Highway south.

No matter which route drivers chooses to take, they should remember that abiding by speed reduction signs and other construction signs are a must. Traffic fines in construction areas more common but they are usually doubled and come with a severe penalty. More importantly however, it's easy to get frustrated in backed up traffic, but road rage can lead to car accidents. Shaving five minutes off of drive time by honking, yelling, and cutting off other vehicles is not worth crashing your truck into a construction sign, getting stuck in a construction ditch, or rear ending someone who isn't moving fast enough through an active construction zone for your liking. Drivers are instead encouraged to leave earlier to get to their intended destinations if they are planning to drive through any areas affected by the closure.

The renovation to Rouge River Bridge has been a long time coming and will hopefully improve the flow of traffic and commerce within Michigan. While the bridge is under construction however, drivers should beware of both construction accidents and motor vehicle accidents, as both are common occurrences in the case of road construction. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident due to road rage or construction, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC today. We offer free consultations to help guide you on how best to handle your car accident. Contact us at 844.4MI.FIRM.  

$1 Billion I-75 Construction To Last Until 2030

Last month, a 14-year long project to improve and widen Interstate 75 in suburban Detroit, Michigan officially got started. 14 years is a long time for most anything, but when it comes to construction on a major highway, 14 years seems like an eternity.

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Fox 2 Detroit talked to Bloomfield Hills resident Indigo Zuri, who said "It's needed but the flip side of that is 14 years is a really long time...Why so long? I'll be too old to drive in 14 years." CBS Detroit talked to Annie Rosenborough of Detroit, who was among motorists not happy to hear about any of it. “I’m going to have to get up a little bit earlier to get to work on time,” she told WWJ’s Charlie Langton.

The first construction of the project started with a 2-year, $90.8 million project to reconstruct both directions of I-75 between Coolidge Highway and South Boulevard in Oakland County. The project includes reconstructing pavement, replacing bridges and modernizing the Square Lake Road interchange. The Michigan Department of Transportation says lane closures are planned. 

A new traffic configuration is expected to last into early September, when additional work on the project is scheduled to begin. The first phase includes roadways in Bloomfield Township and Troy. The right lane of southbound I-75 from the Square Lake interchange to Coolidge Highway will be closed as road crews prepare for a traffic shift. That traffic shift will happen in mid-September. This first phase of the project will cover about three miles of the interstate and is set to be complete in November of 2017. Of course, with construction comes more traffic, and delays all along I-75. "It's going to be a pain. We acknowledge that; we understand that, but this work needs to be done. We have to improve safety. It's our responsibility to put out the safest freeway we can," says Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) spokesperson Rob Morosi.

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Drivers will also see some single-lane closures on northbound I-75 from Coolidge Highway to South Boulevard, and on the north and southbound I-75 ramps to westbound Square Lake Road. This is just the beginning of the construction that is planned, as the work is taking place in phases through 2030. Overall, the construction will widen the roadway from 8 Mile all the way up to M-59 and the cost of the roughly 18-mile project is expected to top $1 billion. 

Waiting in traffic can make anyone impatient, but worse than having to wait in traffic is getting into an accident in traffic. Many drivers are so impatient that they will tailgate and push their and your luck to the limit. If you or somebody you know has been injured in an accident involving an impatient driver, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM, for a free consultation.

I-75 Project Begins in Oakland County Michigan Next Month

If you live or commute in Oakland County and were already sick of the number of orange construction barrels on the roads, you will be in for a big treat come mid-August. The Michigan Department of Transportation announced on July 19th, 2016 that the first project in the rebuilding of I-75 in Oakland County will begin this August. 

The two-year $90.8 million investment, which will stretch from Coolidge Highway to South Boulevard, will include reconstructing pavement, replacing bridges, and modernizing the Square Lake Road interchange. The Square Lake Road project involves replacing the left lane ramps at northbound I-75, and this will continue throughout the winter months. The good news however is that according to MDOT, this project will not impact traffic flow, like most construction projects usually do. 

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“Starting in mid-August, two lanes will be open in each direction of I-75 between Coolidge Highway and Squirrel Road, in order to safely allow crews to construct temporary crossovers. In September, two-way traffic will share the southbound lanes to allow for the reconstruction of northbound I-75, along with bridge replacement at Adams, Square Lake, and Squirrel roads,” MDOT said in a released statement. This roadwork will continue to impact commuters on I-75 and will remain in place until mid-December, when all lanes will be expected to open back up. 

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Oakland County residents aren’t exactly pleased with the upcoming construction in their area. More specifically, residents are upset about the increased noise that will be present due to all of the road work. “The construction is something we know can’t be stopped, and in the long run it’ll be fine. But the noise has tripled in places in my condo I’ve never had it before,” Karen Mellot, a resident of a condo complex located along I-75, told C&G Newspaper. At a meeting held by Oakland County Commissioner Shelley Goodman Taub and MDOT officials, residents caused an uproar, with many shouting at MDOT presenters and others walking out of the room.

As frustrating as ongoing construction may be, drivers are highly discouraged from runing their car right through those orange construction barrels and plowing their way through traffic. By not allowing frustration to turn into road rage drivers can avoid car accidents, crash related injuries, and a meeting with the police. If you or somebody you know has been injured in a car accident caused by aggressive driving, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys will work alongside you to get you the help you need and deserve. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.