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MDOT team gets national award for making improvements to busy I-94 corridor

Contact: Jeff Cranson, MDOT Director of Communications, 517-335-3084
Agency: Transportation

- MDOT team partnered along the I-94 corridor to keep the series of work zone delays to under 40 minutes. Projects were reconfigured prior to and during construction to keep delays to under 40 minutes.
- For southwest Michigan, all 2010 delays due to winter weather, work zones, and incidents were measured and a user-delay cost of $13.4 million was calculated. An ambitious maximum user-delay cost goal of $10 million was established for 2011.
- Between Jan. 1 and June 13, 2011, user-cost delays amounted to $4.21 million, which was under the $4.50 million in user-cost delays targeted for that time period.
- Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 10, 2011, user-cost delays amounted to $7.47 million, which was under the $7.77 million in user-cost delays targeted for that time period.

October 18, 2011 -- The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has received a prestigious national award for creating a partnership that improved traffic operations and system reliability along the I-94 corridor that links Port Huron and Detroit to Chicago and Toronto. The department's I-94 Corridor Operations Partnership was recognized by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' (AASHTO) President's National Performance Excellence Award at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Detroit on Oct. 16.

"This award recognizes this team's focus on achieving its objectives," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "Approximately 35 employees from three different MDOT regions along the corridor organized themselves into four key teams and successfully achieved two major outcomes, safe and reliable travel on I-94 and reduced user delay costs. I-94 is a major international trade corridor and also is a major route for passenger vehicles. The team has worked hard to identify solutions and measure results to ensure safe and reliable travel on I-94 within Michigan and between Chicago and Toronto."

The I-94 corridor moves a high volume of commercial and passenger vehicle traffic seven days a week, and traffic tie-ups and weather delays jeopardize many industries, particularly those supporting automobile manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism. The Corridor Operations Partnership team prepared for the 2011 construction season by setting travel-time delay goals, measures and strategies to account for the corridor's work zone performance. A 40-minute travel-time delay was established for I-94 travelers between the Indiana state line at New Buffalo, Mich., and the Canadian border at Port Huron, Mich. Plans for two Metro Detroit construction projects were reconfigured to reduce unacceptable predicted delays.

The next outcome was to reduce delays and costs associated with winter weather, work zones and incidents along I-94. A maximum user-delay cost goal of $10 million was established for I-94 in Michigan between New Buffalo and Albion. The goal was benchmarked against a measured $13.4 million in delays in 2010. Between Jan. 1 and June 13, 2011, $4.21 million was expended in user delay costs, which came in under the $4.5 million maximum that was targeted for this timeframe. Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 10, 2011, $7.47 million was expended by users due to delays, which was less than the $7.77 million maximum that was targeted for this time frame.

MDOT focused these efforts with three customer groups: I-94 travelers, emergency responders along the corridor and snow plow operators responsible for winter operations along I-94. Customer expectations were benchmarked for the corridor. Collaborative efforts with emergency responders to quickly and safely clear crashes occurred. Snow plow operators measured each winter event's "regain time," which is the time it takes the freeway to return to good condition.

User-delay costs were measured weekly and posted in a performance graphic format and closely monitored. Process maps were developed and accountability software was used for documentation. Throughout the process, the team used a variety of communication strategies to ensure the clarity and consistency of messages to travelers. These ranged from mile marker and exit number standards, usage of standard left-lane closures, and messages posted to Mi Drive, the department's traffic data Web site, and MDOT social media sites, as well as with traditional media outlets.

"As a result of this focused approach, user-delay costs were greatly reduced, providing improved mobility and economic opportunities for moving people and goods on I-94," said MDOT Southwest Region Engineer Roberta S. Welke. "We are committed to meeting the needs of our customers, and working together to achieve our goals was very important to the entire team."

MDOT says: Construction work zones need your undivided attention.
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