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Two Projects in Michigan Win Regional America’s Transportation Awards

by: Jessica Hoover
I-75 Freeway and I-75/M-46 Interchange Design-Build Project
I-75 Freeway and I-75/M-46 Interchange Design-Build Project
Adaptive Signal Control Technologies in Traverse City
Adaptive Signal Control Technologies in Traverse City
Two Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) projects won regional awards in the 2022 America’s Transportation Awards competition, sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The competition recognizes state DOTs for making a difference in their community, with each project falling into one of three categories: Operations Excellence, Best Use of Technology & Innovation, and Quality of Life/Community Development.

“State DOTs are overwhelmingly focused on innovative solutions to address the transportation issues of today and tomorrow, meeting challenges involving climate change, equity, resiliency, and safety,” said Jim Tymon, Executive Director of AASHTO. “The America’s Transportation Awards program shows just how they’re doing that. Whether on foot, in a vehicle, on two wheels, or by rail or transit, state DOTs are continuing to advance a safe, multimodal transportation system.”

Eighteen projects in the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO) region were nominated by eight states for this year’s competition. The following two projects in the Michigan Contractor & Builder area were winners of the regional America’s Transportation Awards.

I-75 Freeway and I-75/M-46 Interchange Design-Build Project (Quality of Life/Community Development, Medium Category)
This project won in the Quality of Life/Community Development category, which honors projects that better connect people to businesses, jobs, health care facilities, and recreational activities while encouraging a mix of transportation modes. Prior to the I-75/M-46 Interchange project, the roadways in Saginaw were over 60 years old, deteriorated beyond the scope of maintenance repairs, and no longer suitable for current traffic patterns of the area.

The $60-million design-build project improved safety and capacity on the busy north/south route by rebuilding and widening 2.5 miles of I-75, replacing the previous full cloverleaf interchange at M-46, and filling a 22-foot dip on I-75. The backfilling of the dip eliminated the need for multiple vertical curves on the roadway and eliminated the need for a pump station, which made I-75 more reliable during storm events. The project also included the addition of roundabouts, the reduction of exit/entrance ramps from eight to four, and more green space on the south side of the interchange.

“The completed project is a much safer and easier to use system,” said Brian Ulman, Davison TSC Manager (former Bay City TSC Construction Engineer). “The entrance and exit ramps are safer to use. The new roundabouts are safer intersections, as traffic crashes that may occur will be at lower speeds and a smaller angle of incidence resulting in less serious accidents. With the elimination of four ramps, the layout will be simpler for traffic exiting and entering I-75 and M-46.”

Adaptive Signal Control Technologies in Traverse City (Best Use of Technology and Innovation, Small Category)
This project won in the Best Use of Technology and Innovation category, which recognizes new technology and/or innovative solutions implemented by a state DOT as part of a transportation project. MDOT improved traffic operations, reduced congestion, and improved reliability in Traverse City with the department’s first use of adaptive signal technology. The $6.5-million project addressed 21 traffic signals along US-31, M-37, and M-72.
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The adaptive signal control technology optimizes traffic flow and reduces peak travel times by allowing traffic signal timing to adapt to actual traffic conditions in real-time. MDOT also improved pedestrian signal timing, upgraded sidewalk ramps to ADA standards, installed CCTV cameras at key intersections, and added a travel time monitoring system that enables both real-time and historical analysis of traffic operations.

“So far we’ve seen some great benefits from this project, including more reliable travel times,” said Victoria Swanson, North Region Assistant Operations Engineer. “This has also benefitted some bicyclist crossings as well as pedestrian crossings, as we’ve been able to implement leading pedestrian integrals which improves pedestrian safety. … Overall, it’s really improved traffic flow and increased the traffic time reliability throughout the Traverse City area.”

Next Phase of the Competition
The three highest-scoring projects from each regional America’s Transportation Awards competition (a total of 12 projects) will continue on to compete for the national Grand Prize and the People’s Choice Award. Online voting for the People’s Choice Award has begun, and the 12 finalists were announced this month. The 12 finalists are as follows:
  • Caltrans: 360 Tours Program
  • Illinois DOT and Iowa DOT: The Memorial Bridge, Interstate 74 Mississippi River Crossing Project
  • All MAASTO States (nominated by Iowa DOT): Emergency Divisible Load Management Project
  • Minnesota DOT: Trunk Highway 61 Grand Marais Reconstruction Project
  • New Jersey DOT: Route 495, Route 1&9/Paterson Plank Road Bridge Project
  • New York DOT: State Route 5S and North Genesee Street Multi-Modal Safety and Connections Enhancements Project
  • Pennsylvania DOT: I-579 Urban Open Space Cap Project
  • South Carolina DOT: U.S. 21 over Harbor River Bridge Replacement Project
  • Tennessee DOT: Hernando de Soto Bridge Emergency Repairs Project
  • Texas DOT: U.S. 281 North Expansion, Segment 1 Project
  • Virginia DOT: Chatham Bridge Rehabilitation and Share Use Path Project
  • Washington State DOT: Active Transportation Plan 2020 and Beyond Project

In October, AASHTO will reveal the winners for the Grand Prize and the People’s Choice Award at its 2022 Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida.

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