Four MDOT projects recognized with national awards

Contact: Jeff Cranson, MDOT Office of Communications
Agency: Transportation

Fast facts:
- Four MDOT projects have won AASHTO President's Transportation Awards in the categories of highways, environment, public transit, and administration.
- These highly competitive awards were presented in Phoenix, Arizona.

September 27, 2017 -- Today, four diverse Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) projects were each awarded the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) prestigious President's Transportation Award at the annual AASHTO meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. Each project won an award in the subject categories of highways, environment, public transit, and administration.

I-96/US-23 interchange reconstruction project, Livingston County
Winning the "highways" subject category, Jack Rick, design engineer manager for the MDOT University Region design squad and the I-96/US-23 project team, managed the development process that led to the completion of the interchange reconstruction in 2015-2016 in Livingston County.

The I-96/US-23 interchange includes six bridges that were built in the 1950s. Due to their poor condition, all six needed deck replacements. In addition, when the highway was originally built, there were 11 homes in the midfield of the freeway-to-freeway interchange. These homes and surrounding commercial and industrial development presented MDOT with an enormous challenge to come up with an alternative that would minimize the impact on the community.    

To ensure safe and efficient traffic flow, designers came up with an innovative solution that addressed the challenges at a minimal cost to rebuild a regionally significant freeway-to-freeway interchange. The concept included building four new through-lanes (for traffic not exiting at US-23) on I-96 between the current eastbound and westbound lanes of the highway, along with building three new bridges over northbound and southbound US-23 and over Old US-23.

As part of the project, the existing lanes of I-96 collect and distribute vehicles entering and exiting the freeways. With this system, ramp traffic can travel at a much slower speed and has easier and safer lane-changing opportunities. These improvements have promoted better driver expectancy and understanding.

For more information on the I-96/US-23 interchange reconstruction project, download a project presentation from the MDOT website.

I-75 Conservation Plan, Monroe County
The I-75 Conservation Plan team won the "environment" category. In 2013, MDOT received a grant from the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Strategic Highway Research Program 2 to complete the I-75 Conservation Action Plan, which identifies conservation priorities within a 20-mile stretch of I-75 in Monroe County. To identify these priorities, MDOT and its partners, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, and MSU Extension, reached out to technical experts, regulatory agencies and the public for guidance.

Beyond analyzing the impacts of rebuilding the freeway within the existing right of way, the conservation plan looked at the surrounding landscape from an ecological perspective of wetlands, watersheds, and plant and animal species in the western Lake Erie area.

Understanding the impacts of rebuilding freeways on the natural and human environments helped engineers refine their designs to minimize impacts. MDOT's partnership with SEMCOG ensures data collected for the plan will continue to help local transportation planners with future project development. SEMCOG also will use lessons learned from the plan to enhance transportation planning in other member counties.

For more information on the I-75 Conservation Plan, download the plan from SEMCOG's website. A project summary is available on FHWA's website.

M-1 RAIL streetcar project, Detroit
MDOT, in collaboration with M-1 RAIL and the City of Detroit, embarked on an ambitious project to bring a streetcar to M-1 (Woodward Avenue) in the midtown and downtown neighborhoods of Detroit. Funding was provided through private, philanthropic, and public contributions to bring this modern streetcar system into the Motor City.

MDOT oversaw M-1 RAIL, who then managed the project and the reconstruction of more than 2.5 miles of Woodward Avenue. This was a big step for MDOT to turn over the reconstruction or state infrastructure to another entity. By allowing M-1 RAIL to oversee the project, they could control their own schedule.

This section of Woodward Avenue was last rebuilt when it was originally widened in the 1930s. In addition to rebuilding pavement, MDOT replaced the bridges that carry Woodward Avenue over I-75 and I-94, improved pedestrian crossings, and installed a new storm sewer and traffic signal infrastructure. In coordination with utility partners, the project also involved installing new gas mains and replacing water mains, some dating back to the 1880s. MDOT, with great support from federal transportation agencies, incorporated a "One DOT" approach, addressing each agency's different and complex statutory, regulatory and administrative procedures to complete the project. Because of this collaborative effort, Jonathan Loree, MDOT senior project manager, won the President's Award in the "public transit" category for his leadership.    

More information about M-1 RAIL is available on the QLine website.

For-hire transportation passenger transportation reform
MDOT received an award in the "administration" category for efforts in reforming Michigan's for-hire passenger transportation regulations. The result was a law that protects consumers and that both MDOT and the industry can successfully implement, as well as opening transportation opportunities to help meet Michigan's mobility needs.

MDOT began engaging legislative offices about reforming the state's for-hire passenger transportation laws in 2012. MDOT was responsible for two laws, the "Limousine Transportation Act" (vehicles that carry 15 passengers or less) and the "Motor Bus Transportation Act" (vehicles that carry 16 passengers or more). Both laws required MDOT certification of the company based on insurance coverage and an annual vehicle inspection. MDOT sought changes to the laws because the for-hire transportation industry was changing toward smaller carriers and new technology has ushered in changes with transportation network companies (TNC) using cell phone apps to dispatch vehicles.

In 2016, legislation was signed into law that completely revamped the regulations. Limousines, taxis, and TNCs that carry eight passengers or less were moved under a new law that now is administrated by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). MDOT focused its efforts on inspecting buses that carry nine passengers or more, which is consistent with federal regulations, being more customer friendly, and being effective to administrate.

More information about for-hire transportation passenger transportation reform is available on the Michigan Legislature website:
- "Public Act 345 of 2016 "Limousine, Taxicab, and Transportation Network Company Act"
- "Public Act 349 of 2016 "Motor Bus Transportation Act"

Related Documents
I-96/US-23 interchange reconstruction project photo PDF icon
I-75 Conservation Plan photo PDF icon
M-1 RAIL streetcar project photo PDF icon