New Flex Route Planned On I-96 Between Kent Lake Road & I-275

A future project is planned to address a busy, congested and accident-prone commuter route many Livingston County residents utilize.

The Michigan Department of Transportation has plans to convert a segment of I-96 between Kent Lake Road and I-275 into a Flex Route in 2021, which experiences high traffic volumes and numerous crashes. Under current plans, the median shoulder would be used part-time during periods of heavy congestion, typically during morning and evening commutes for more capacity. Ramp metering will also be implemented at select locations to control ramp traffic entering the freeway for smoother merging. That’s said to be the result of much study of the areas with the most crashes and the most problems. M-DOT Communications Representative Diane Cross tells WHMI it is going to be a big project but more in the sense of what it will do for that corridor, versus a lot of construction work that motorists will see. She says they’re not going to be digging up the entire roadway and rebuilding it but instead will add more I-T-S or intelligent transportation systems with radar detection and some signals near ramps to help them know the flow of traffic.

The future project is expected to reduce crashes and improve travel time reliability and Cross says by controlling the traffic coming into the congestion, they hope to ease and lower crash numbers and also guarantee a smoother flow of traffic. Shoulder usage will be similar to the US-23 Flex Route north of Ann Arbor. However, the project will also introduce ramp metering at some select locations to control ramp traffic entering the freeway and improve merging traffic flow. Cross says multiple options were investigated before deciding on the Flex Route project, which will help accommodate larger traffic volumes going eastbound in the morning and westbound in the afternoon. She says signs will be placed over the road every mile or so and cameras will be added to monitor the freeway. Traffic signals at the ramps will tell motorists if they can enter the freeway based on congestion.

M-DOT has scheduled a public information meeting on the project for next Wednesday from 4 to 7pm in the training room of the Novi Police Department on Ten Mile Road. Various project managers, designers, engineers and officials from affected municipalities will be on hand and residents, business and interested stakeholders are encouraged to attend. Cross says they want to start to get the word out because as people drive those majorly congested areas for a number of hours each day wondering if anything will ever be done, they want to let the public know they are working on a solution and show them the plans. Various project officials and engineers will be available to answer any questions and drawings will be up for viewing. M-DOT has also set up a special email to answer any questions from the public about the project at MDOT-I96FlexRoute@Michigan.gov. (JM)

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