The first big travel weekend of the year is about to begin and the state is making moves to try to alleviate some of that traveling stress, especially in construction zones.
“We know there’s going to be millions of people hitting the road so we’re going to move as many traffic restrictions as we can,” said John Richard, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Transportation, “To make travel a little bit easier.”
The busiest travel days of the year also fall during the busiest construction times of the year and MDOT knows this so starting Friday, they are going to move as many orange barrels as they can out of the way.
“This is something that we do on Labor Day weekend, Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July, and sometimes even Thanksgiving, if the weather allows for work,” said Richard.
Where lanes can be opened, they will.
“Statewide we are pulling, I think it’s 55% of all of our projects,” said Richard.
Of course, many projects have torn up roadways or diverted lanes and not every issue will be cleared.
“It’ll still be a work zone sometimes but they’ll open up as many lanes as they possibly can,” said Richard.
In the state of Michigan there’s nothing that can be done about construction zones. They are going to be there no matter how many people need to hit the road over the weekend but there is something drivers can do to alleviate the slow downs and the wait times for all drivers. The most effective strategy, is the ‘zipper merge,’ something a lot of people don’t know about, or don’t like to do, but it’s going to work for everyone if everyone buys in.
“The zipper can be very effective when drivers follow the rules and pay attention,” said Richard, “But a lot of them don’t. They think people are cutting in line, but we want folks to use all available lanes to reduce those back-ups.”
It makes sense. Use up all available space until you can’t. The issue is getting everyone on the same page. “Lane vigilantes” don’t help anybody.
“You get that open lane and somebody takes that,” said Richard, “A lot of people will try to block that lane and that creates a very hazardous situation.”
Zipper merges are usually only set up in heavy traffic areas but with an extra million cars on the road, even rural routes can get congested.
“It won’t always work the best, but when it does work, we really need folks to comply and take turns,” said Richard, “Because if they don’t, it just causes a big mess.”
The following is a list of work zones that will remain active or have lane restrictions during Memorial Day weekend in the 9&10 News viewing area.. If necessary, detour routes will be posted at the project location. All closures are subject to change. For the most up-to-date information on MDOT projects, go to the Mi Drive website at www.Michigan.gov/Drive.
- I-75 in St. Ignace, Mackinac County, has one lane open in each direction using the outside lanes.
- I-75, Chippewa County, will have one northbound lane open over the Pine River.
- M-123 north of Newberry, Luce County, has one lane open in alternating directions via temporary signals.
- US-2 in St. Ignace, Mackinac County, has the south side of the overpass over I-75 closed. One lane is open in each direction using the north half of the bridge.
Northern Lower Peninsula
- I-75, Cheboygan County, will have northbound traffic shifted to southbound I-75 with a movable barrier wall.
- I-75 Business Loop (BL), Roscommon/Crawford county line, will have one lane of alternating traffic with a temporary traffic signal.
- M-119 in Harbor Springs, Emmet County, will have one lane of alternating traffic with a temporary traffic signal.
- US-23, Alcona County, is closed from Black River Road to F-41 with a detour on local roads.
- US-31 in Alanson, Emmet County, will have southbound traffic detoured on Milton Road.
Central Michigan and Thumb
- M-20 in Mt. Pleasant, Isabella County, will have one lane open in each direction with a center turn lane from Summerton Road to Mission Road.
- M-65 in Twining, Arenac County, will have a single-lane closure over Big Creek with a temporary traffic signal.
- US-10 Business Route, Midland County, will have lane closures and traffic shifts. The Eastman Road ramp to eastbound US-10 is closed and detoured via the Wackerly Street entrance ramp.