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This Construction Season, the ‘Zipper Merge’ Can Keep Traffic Moving

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Construction season is here, and with it, comes back-ups. The Michigan Department of Transportation is reminding drivers how to get through the work zones quickly.

It’s the ‘zipper merge.’ Many drivers think it’s others trying to cut in line but really it’s the best, most efficient option to get drivers through construction work zones faster.

“Use both lanes and merge at the merge point,” said John Richard, MDOT spokesman. “It’s pretty straightforward.”

They are everywhere: the signs, the barrels, the lane closures and the back-ups.

“As soon as things kind of jam up and get congested, we want folks to use both lanes to reduce the back-ups,” said Richard.

The ‘zipper merge’ is essential to take each lane all the way down to the end and take turns merging.

“The signs are very clear, use both lanes take turns at the merge point,” said Richard. “Up ahead there’s another sign that says ‘merge point.’”

All the empty space in the lane? It could be filled with more cars, thus shortening the line and wait.

“It’s very helpful to have that back-up be 500 cars in two lanes, as opposed to 1,000 cars in one lane,” said Richard.

Some see it as drivers cutting in line, it’s not. Everyone has seen those who take it in their own hands to hold back traffic.

“So these vigilante lane blockers or lane straddlers, they do nothing except cause road rage,’ said Richard.

And it’s illegal. With record funding spent on the roads, there are more projects and closures than ever, all the more reason to get on the same page.

“If the drivers just work together, it can be way more effective and way less of a headache,” said Richard. “Because once you get that ‘zipper merge’ down, things move pretty quickly.”