Drive times on I-96 rank among the worst in southeast Michigan. However, plans to improve commuter flow on I-96 from the Livingston County border to the I-275/I-696 interchange, are among several initiatives that will be presented early next month by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. While there are no plans to widen the freeway, a new proposal could make the existing lanes more efficient.
“There isn’t enough money to widen every road, but there’s a wide inside shoulder along most of that corridor,” Carmine Palombo, deputy executive director, said of the stretch running through Novi, Wixom and Lyon Township. “For a relatively minimal cost, we can add a lane to what’s there now.”
SEMCOG will welcome public comments on proposed amendments to the current 2014-2017 Transportation Improvement Program and the far-reaching 2040 Regional Transportation Plan. Among the initiatives would be implementation of an Active Traffic Management approach to I-96, an MDOT-managed project that Palombo said would make use of monitored signage to open an additional lane when needed. A series of interactive signs would direct commuters to use the inside shoulder as a drive lane during morning and afternoon commutes.
“This is a concept being used in a number of states,” Palombo said. A similar system has been proposed for U.S. 23 between Washtenaw and Livingston counties. Preliminary engineering studies would begin in fiscal year 2017 if the proposed amendments are approved. The project has a target completion date of 2019.
Active Traffic Management would include speed management, use of shoulders as travel lanes, lane management and queue warning systems through overhead or side-mounted signage that would advise drivers of lane choices.