Showcase roadway demonstrates improvements for senior mobility

To demonstrate some of the techniques recommended for improving senior mobility, in 2004 MDOT developed a showcase roadway along a 7.4-mile loop in downtown Detroit. This loop runs from Jefferson Avenue, northbound on M-10, eastbound on I-94, southbound on I-75, southbound on I-375 and back to Jefferson Avenue. (See the roadway map.)

MDOT developed the showcase loop with assistance from AAA and FHWA, and incorporated recommendations from the FHWA's Highway Design Handbook for Older Drivers and Pedestrians and the Guidelines and Recommendations to Accommodate Older Drivers and Pedestrians, published in 2001.

Some of the devices installed on the showcase roadway are:

  • A new color for warning signs, which studies indicate is 68% brighter.
  • Different font (lettering) on guide and street name signs, which studies indicate improves visibility at night by 26%.
  • Back plates on traffic signals, which studies indicate increase the visibility of a signal by 33%.
  • LED (Light Emitting Diode) lenses in the signals instead of the standard incandescent lenses. Studies have shown the LEDs are brighter, maintain their brightness for a longer time, and use 1/10 the power of an incandescent lens.
  • New pedestrian sign. The new sign has been shown to be better understood by both pedestrians and drivers.
  • Pedestrian countdown signals. These allow traffic engineers to maintain the traffic flow, while informing pedestrians about the time available to cross the intersection.
  • Wider edge and lane lines and painting of some curbs to increase their visibility.
  • LED lenses in some warning lights to improve the visibility of curves. Additional markers to provide direction to drivers where lanes merge.