Why Michigan Can’t Open All Closed Construction Lanes on Holidays
We spend a lot of our day in construction zones in the Mitten State, but have you ever really looked at all the equipment that is needed for this undertaking? Think beyond the trucks, jackhammers, steam rollers, and cement mixers. Ponder the number of safety materials and barricades that are there to divert traffic and protect the brave souls that have the burden of repairing our damaged roads while we drive by at speeds over 70mph.
A Closer Look at What Goes Into Closing a Lane of Traffic in Michigan
See all those little cones in the map above. Those are lane closures and as you can see we have a ton of them in Michigan at the moment.
Maybe you've wondered aloud, "Why don't you just open up the lanes during the holidays?" or "Why do they close sections of the highway they aren't even working on?". Both are very good questions. To better understand the answers, let's take a look at 1 mile of construction in Michigan.
I asked the Michigan Department of Transportations Communications Representative for the University Region, Aaron Jenkins, to provide statistics on what equipment is needed to close a single lane of traffic, using the project on US 127 as a reference point.
US 127 in Jackson and Ingham Counties will continue past this construction season according to MDOT's website:
MDOT will be improving the US-127 corridor from the Ingham/Jackson county line north the I-69 interchange. Work be broken into several projects between summer 2022 through summer 2026. The majority of work for these projects will take place over several phases.
These improvements will provide increased safety and mobility in this area of US-127, which is a significant local and national trade corridor.
Our statistics are from 2023's portion of improvements, narrowing in on a single mile between the Kipp Road and Cedar Street exits. When you start doing the math on how much equipment, labor, and time goes into closing just 1 mile of highway, you'll understand why they "can't just be moved" or "why is that part of the road closed if no one is working on it?".