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.

Sterling Heights Lawsuit Against Macomb County, Over Sinkhole, Dismissed

Michigan residents are used to infrastructure issues such as potholes and even sinkholes frequently occurring due to Michigan's status as the land of lakes and tempered weather. Lately however, Michiganders are becoming exasperated with dealing with the financial and infrastructural fallout of these destructive holes. In December 2016, a particularly dangerous sinkhole in Fraser, Michigan appeared on 15 Mile Road and Eberlein Street, causing residents to be evacuated from their homes and for part of 15 Mile Road to be closed down.

The sinkhole was caused by a sewer line that is currently being funded and fixed under the Macomb Interceptor Drainage District (MIDD) which is made up of county and city entities including Fraser, Utica, Macomb Township, Clinton county, Harrison County, and Sterling Heights, to name a few. The MIDD tasked Sterling Heights with submitting a share of $22.2 million dollars toward funding repairs. The city of Sterling Heights was outraged with the portion of money that they were tasked to raise and responded with a lawsuit on May 8, 2017, against Macomb County. Sterling Heights claims that the county should be responsible for the repair cost, and not the citizens of the communities affected by the sinkhole.

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How The Sinkhole Was Created

As Fraser Public Safety's Lt. Mike Pettyes explains, the main 11-foot-wide sewer line - that lies 55 feet underground -  had a break that allowed waste and water to wash out the dirt and sand that supports the structures above ground. Once the supporting layers of dirt were washed out, it caused a gap that allowed for the land above, to sink into the hole in order to fill it in. Also, this isn't the first time a sinkhole has happened in this area. Back in August 2004, a sinkhole grew to be 160-feet long and 60-feet wide appeared as a result of a collapsed sewer line and was closed to the public for 10 months.

Sinkhole Repair Costs And Necessity

Based on current inspections, the sinkhole is expected to cost $75 million dollars to repair, if the pipe doesn’t completely collapse before it is repaired. $70 million of this enormous amount is supposed to be paid by 25-year-old bonds owned by Macomb County and the remaining $5 million is to be covered by state grants. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) uses the sinkhole as evidence that Michigan’s infrastructure is in need of improvements. This statement is sufficiently supported by The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) who gave Michigan’s infrastructure a D on it’s report card back in 2009. The latest reports show that in 2011, Michigan still wasn’t making the grade with nearly 1,300 of the 11,022 bridges in 'poor' to 'failing' condition, 22% of the major roads in 'poor' condition and 66 of its waste sites being put on the national priorities list.

Sterling Heights Lawsuit Dismissed

Crumbling Overpass

The MIDD contracted the Macomb County Wastewater Disposal District (MCWDD) back in 2010 to deal with repairs and upkeep of the sewer line. However, the MCWDD failed to do their job. As a result, the city of Sterling Heights was issued a bill for $22.2 million dollars of the estimated $75 million repair cost. This is a cost that Mayor Michael Taylor of Sterling Heights argues is unfair to his city, its residents, and its businesses to pay for, due to the “breach in contract” on MCWDDs part.

However, Macomb County Circuit Judge Jennifer Faunce didn't think so, which is why she dismissed Sterling Heights' lawsuit in favor of the MIDD's argument that the lawsuit was preventing the sewer line from being fixed. But, this may not be the last time the MIDD will face trouble from Sterling Heights. Mayor Taylor says that he is disappointed by Judge Faunce's decision and is currently reconvening with the city's attorney and the City Council to figure out a solution. 

“I’m going to do everything I can to protect our taxpayers,” declared Taylor.

Temporary Fixes

As of May 14, 2017, officials state that an additional $6.2 million in new repairs is needed. In the meantime, a temporary bypass line has been installed to help waste flow around the sinkhole area and allow inspectors to further investigate the damage of the sewer line. So far, east of the sinkhole (upstream) shows signs of deterioration with gushing leaks and fractures. West of the sinkhole (downstream) has been scheduled to be inspected for damages later on this summer and could possibly drive up the cost of the repair bill and the therefore the need for additional bonds to be sold.

Hopefully, while negotiations and repair are underway regarding who will pay for what, the sinkhole doesn't collapse even further or potentially spread and make the situation even worse. In the meantime, drivers should pay attention to where they are driving as sinkholes are a serious matter. Drivers should be careful of streets with noticeable dips or drainage problems which could be a sign of it's failing infrastructure. In addition, while repairs are being made along 15 Mile Road, motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists should all be wary of construction site accidents. By looking out for construction signs, slowing down car speed at construction sites, and by generally traveling through construction sites more cautiously, people may be able to avoid serious injuries that can arise from construction motor vehicle accidents.


Infrastructure damage and repair has been a growing problem in Michigan for many years, let alone the entire nation. In 2013, the ASCE estimated that the cost of updating the infrastructure in America could cost up to $3.6 trillion dollars by the year 2020. Have you or someone you know sustained injuries in an accident stemming from damaged infrastructure? If so, call 844.4MI.FIRM to speak with an attorney at The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our firm provides free consultations.

Macomb County Car Crash Heard For Blocks, Leaves One Dead

A car was ripped in half this past week in a life-taking crash in Macomb County, Michigan. Fox 2 Detroit reported that many witnesses stated that the crash sounded like an explosion. One witness in particular, stated that the two car crash sounded like a ten car crash, and that even a day later she could not get the noise out of her head. The noise may have come from one of the vehicles in the collision which was split into three pieces.

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The speed limit in the area is 50 miles per hour but eye witnesses stated that the car was going at least double that, lost control, and crashed. Another car crashed into that car afterwards. The driver of the second car attempted to help the driver of the first car but there was nothing anyone could do. The first driver was pronounced dead at the scene. It was certain that the speed of the accident was a factor, but some believe drugs and alcohol may have played a factor. For the residents of the neighborhood in which the crash took place, the spot of the accident will never feel the same.

This accident should be a haunting reminder for drivers to always follow posted speed limits. It is very easy for drivers to speed, but it is one of the most unsafe things a driver can do. Crashes caused by high speeds often leave drivers, passengers, and bystanders paralyzed or even dead. Following posted driving speed limits is a very easy way save lives. 

If you or someone you know has been involved in an auto accident, call The Michigan Law Firm PLLC. Our attorneys are highly experienced in handling all types of motor vehicle accidents. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.