For the first time, Michigan will open special lanes on highway median shoulders to ease traffic congestion caused by rush hour or crashes.
The "flex route" was unveiled Monday for northbound and southbound U.S. 23 between Ann Arbor and Brighton. It's Michigan's most heavily congested corridor outside of metropolitan Detroit.
The Michigan Department of Transportation hopes to begin operating the system this week.
The median shoulder lanes will be opened and closed during peak periods using electronic message boards. The flex route isn't a true third lane because there's no full shoulder.
It's cheaper than building a full lane.
Gov. Rick Snyder helped unveil the flex route at a rest stop north of Ann Arbor. He says "connected roadways will help us maintain our global leadership in mobility."
"If we gotta open up the freeway, you gotta do it. So I think if they make it easier for us, that's what's important," said Chuck Desjardans, Fenton resident.
He said he drives down that portion of US-23 about once a month and is happy MDOT is trying something new to reduce traffic.
"It feels a lot better because nobody wants traffic when they're going to work or coming home from work," Desjardans said.
Jeffrey Nest, Fenton resident, is concerned about the project. He wishes MDOT would have just made a third lane instead of the flex route.
"I would rather have a shoulder in case I get a flat tire or break down and have to pull over," Nest said.
A representative for MDOT said a third lane would have cost much more and the flex route has seen success in other states.
The flex route is going to be open and ready for action as early as next week.
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