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Michigan Department of Transportation

The findings of a $100,000 study were improperly influenced by lobbyists. That’s according to a new state Auditor General report.

According to emails and documents obtained by the Detroit Free Press, the Michigan Aggregates Association was a primary gravel lobbying firm that influenced the study.

Rush our traffic on US-23
YouTube Screen grab / MDOT

State officials say they need to spend $2.5 billion dollars more each year to fix Michigan’s roads and bridges. Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants to raise the money by increasing the fuel tax by 45 cents a gallon.

Mackinac Bridge
MBA

A new digital initiative by the Michigan Department of Transportation makes bridge safety data more accessible to Michiganders.

The Michigan Bridge Conditions Dashboard provides up-to-date information on more than 11,000 bridges throughout the state, including locally-owned bridges. 

Potholes on a road in Ann Arbor.
Daniel Hensel / Michigan Radio

Outgoing director of the Michigan Department of Transportation Kirk Steudle thinks that neither of Michigan's major-party candidates for governor has a solid plan for fixing the roads.

Steudle says Republican candidate Bill Schuette's idea of auditing MDOT to find extra cash has been done before – many times -- and it's never really been successful.

In fact, he says that in the last three years, M-DOT has undergone 26 audits in 23 different areas of the department.

striped safety cones on a road
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Workers will return to road construction projects that have been stalled since Labor Day due to an employee lockout, Gov. Snyder’s office announced Thursday.

The governor’s office helped broker a deal between the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, and Operating Engineers 324. MITA, a construction industry group representing road contractors, had locked out union workers over an ongoing contract dispute, bringing about 150 road construction projects around the state grinding to a halt.

Temperatures that topped 90 degrees over the weekend caused a section of highway outside Lansing to close twice when the road buckled.

Michigan Department of Transportation crews broke up concrete Sunday along northbound I-69 in Charlotte in Eaton County and filled gaps with quick-drying asphalt.

In extreme heat concrete isn't able to expand, so it starts to break up, MDOT told the Lansing State Journal.

Road buckling also closed southbound lanes of I-69 in the same location on Saturday night.

user BGilbow / Flickr

The Michigan Department of Transportation says it’s prepared to handle the threat of freeway flooding in metro Detroit.

Many of metro Detroit’s freeways are below-ground, and there have been some serious flooding episodes in the past few years.

movingmacomb.org

One of the state’s busiest highway corridors should start getting some much-needed maintenance this week.

Portions of I-696 in Macomb and Oakland counties are literally crumbling. Some motorists have reported getting hit by flying chunks of road debris.

The situation has forced the Michigan Department of Transportation to do some emergency repairs.

Kevin Lau / FLICKR - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Something Michiganders talk about all the time? Roads. But do you know who’s in charge of our roads, or who owns them? Listener Phil Arbour was thinking along those lines.

He sent this question to our MI Curious team:

“How is road ownership broken down in Michigan?"

Arbour said he wanted to know how the roads are divvied up by federal, state, county, township, and village.

Stateside brought in Aarne Frobom with the Michigan Department of Transportation to explain.

Sunflowers on the shoulder of a highway
Jocelyn Hall / MDOT

The Next Idea

Scientists have known for a while that America’s bee population is in trouble — some types are even ending up on the endangered species list. Pollinator insects like bees are crucial to food production, and, in agricultural states like Michigan, keeping that population alive and healthy is a big deal.

A small but colorful pilot project at the Michigan Department of Transportation aims to provide some late season meals for those hard-working bees. 

Detroit keeps flooding. What's being done about it?

Sep 29, 2016
Detroit residential street flooding.
Ahmad Hicks

Detroit is once again dealing with flash floods after an intense rainfall Thursday.

Infrastructure issues are a big part of why the area has experienced serious flooding multiple times in the past two years, most notably after a 2014 flood that caused damage across the metro Detroit area. 

MDOT / via Twitter

Major stretches of highway throughout Metro Detroit were flooded out Tuesday morning, after heavy rainfall Monday night.

That’s likely a “new normal” people will just have to deal with going forward.

Today marks the beginning of MDOT's $1.3 billion project to reconstruct I-75.
Flickr user Bill Lund / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

The Michigan Department of Transportation began its reconstruction of I-75 in Oakland County today. The plan is estimated to take until 2030 and an estimated $1.3 billion.

 

Rob Morosi from the Michigan Department of Transportation and Nick Schroeck, director of the Transnational Environmental Law Clinic, joined us today to discuss the plan.

photojock / morgueFile

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) broke its own rule on road safety studies. That’s according to a new report from the Michigan auditor general’s office.

The self-imposed rule said MDOT must conduct at least one safety study on road projects in every region of the state.

But last fiscal year, the department failed to do a safety study in two of those seven regions. MDOT says that’s because it concentrated the studies on projects that had more importance.

cars on a highway
Joe Shlabotnik / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Automakers spend a lot of time and money touting the safety features of their vehicles, all of which have dramatically improved safety for drivers and passengers.

But despite greater and more advanced safety measures, the National Safety Council tells us America is on track to have its highest traffic death toll since 2007, when over 41,000 people died on our country’s roads.

Courtesy: Michigan Department of Transportation

When the Gordie Howe International Bridge from Canada to the U.S. is complete, it’s expected that thousands of trucks a day will travel through the Detroit neighborhood of Delray. Residents there want the government to keep additional pollution to a minimum.

The remains of the tanker that exploded on I-75 on August 20. The truck's driver was killed.
MDOT

Exploding tankers have added another layer of headache to Michigan’s road woes this year, and the state is still totaling up the damage costs.

Three tankers have blown up in 2015 so far—all along busy interstate corridors in or just outside Detroit.

morgueFile

A state official says $3,000-a-day lease payments on idle train cars should end by Sept. 30.   

The Michigan Transportation Department is negotiating with a railroad to change a contract that has been a costly embarrassment.

The state has spent more than $10 million since 2010 to lease and refurbish the rail cars, although commuter rail service in southeastern Michigan appears to be years away. 

morgueFile

The Michigan Department of Transportation is close to re-negotiating a deal on leased rail cars that are sitting un-used in a state lot.

The state’s already paid $11 million to the Great Lakes Central Railroad on the leases.  

Tim Hoeffner is the director of the Office of Rail in the Michigan Department of Transportation.

He says the arrangement would allow the state to suspend its lease payments for up to five years “and the Great Lakes Central Railroad would try to lease the equipment, sub-lease the equipment and try to generate revenue from these other lease opportunities.” 

user: Dwight Burdette / Wikimedia Commons

The traffic on US-23 between Brighton and Ann Arbor can be rough during rush hours, which is why the Michigan Department of Transportation is considering adopting 'dynamic shoulders' -- the road's shoulders would open as a way to alleviate traffic. 

"They have been used in other states, in Europe," explained Kari Arend, spokesperson for MDOT. "So this would be the first time such a system would be implemented in Michigan"

The I-96/23 Interchange only approximates a "Thunderdome." To find the real thing, you would, of course, have to go Burning Man.
Matthew Gordon / Flickr

The I-96/US 23 highway interchange can be like Thunderdome - two cars enter, one car leaves.

But that's about to change.

MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) is set to make what it calls "major safety and operational improvements" to how cars and trucks merge and exit the two major highway systems next month.

striped safety cones on a road
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report says the Michigan Department of Transportation has done a poor job of ensuring that road builders repair problems with their work.

Michigan started a warranty program to ensure road builders come back and repair problems. The report says the state hasn’t followed up to ensure the work gets done. 

MDOT

A report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group cites a plan to widen I-94 through the heart of Detroit as one of 11 “highway boondoggles” nationwide.

The planned “mega-project” will add a lane in either direction from midtown Detroit through the city’s east side. It will also connect service drives, widen shoulders and rebuild some bridges along that stretch of the highway.

MDOT / via Facebook

Metro Detroit got hit with a record-breaking burst of rain Monday night—up to six inches in some spots.

The deluge left highways flooded, motorists stranded and thousands of basements swamped.

As the waters receded, it was time to clean up and assess the damage. Here’s a report from one of the hardest-hit areas: southeast Oakland County.

The state's busiest interchange, underwater

The I-75/696 interchange is the right at the heart of Metro Detroit’s freeway system—the busiest interchange in the state.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Transportation officials in Michigan are hearing from their federal counterparts this week about a funding shortage that may affect next year’s orange barrel season.

The problem is fuel efficient cars, at least partially. More fuel efficient cars mean less gas revenue flowing into the Federal Highway Trust Fund.  The federal gas tax rate has remained at the same level for two decades.  

Drivers beware, warns MDOT director

Feb 13, 2014
net_efekt / Flickr

Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, says the harsh winter will make the pothole situation in Michigan this spring the worst we’ve seen in our lifetime. He testified this week before the state House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation.

Joining us to talk roads are Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

More money for Michigan transportation projects?
user theed17 / wikimedia commons

The Michigan Department of Transportation is asking businesses whether they’re interested in partnering with the state for certain projects. That could include taking over the building, operating, or financing of infrastructure projects from the state.

Joe Pavona is Governor Rick Snyder’s special advisor on public-private partnerships.

“I think that this is the direction of the future, and I think is consistent with providing improved customer service and value for Michigan,” he says.

Lawmakers in Lansing are debating how to boost transportation spending by more than a billion dollars a year. Pavona says including private businesses in transportation projects could save the state money and time.

But Michigan’s largest state employees union doesn’t like the idea. Ray Holman is with UAW Local 6000.

“You’re talking about services and responsibilities that are vital. And you’re talking about issues of safety, of course. And we believe that certain things are best handled by the state workforce,” he says.

Right now, MDOT is exploring public-private partnerships involving bridge work, freeway lighting, and two rest areas in Northern Michigan.

It says it’s too early to say whether the partnerships would shift public sector jobs to the private sector.

Michigan Flyer

A private bus service will get a federal grant, despite the objections of Lansing’s Capitol Region International Airport.

The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission last night approved a $595,000 federal grant to the Michigan Flyer. The Flyer currently operates 8 daily round trips from Lansing to Ann Arbor to Metro Airport. The grant will allow its buses to run four more round trips each day.   

Airport officials fear the added bus service will siphon off potential air passengers from Lansing.

Michigan Flyer facebook page

A federal grant to expand bus service between Lansing and Detroit Metro Airport is stalled.

The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission split nine to nine on authorizing a $600,000 grant to help the Michigan Flyer expand its daily trips from eight to twelve.    The commissioner with the potential tie-breaking vote did not attend Wednesday night’s meeting.

State and federal transportation agencies have already approved the grant, which would essentially help offset the costs for the first few months of the added service between East Lansing and Ann Arbor.

A truck and other traffic crossing the Ambassador Bridge.
Casino Jones / Flickr | Creative Commons

The Michigan Department of Transportation may remove a ban which prohibits truckers from carrying hazardous materials across the Ambassador Bridge.

Rob Morosi, an MDOT spokesman, says most of the items currently considered hazardous are just normal household materials.

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