Study Background

US 12 Improvements to the US-12 roadway have been considered for many years. Increased development in Pittsfield Township during the last two decades has been accompanied by increases in traffic congestion and crash frequency along US-12. As early as May 1987, local residents met with township and state officials to discuss issues regarding US-12. One of their primary concerns was the potential hazard of making left turns into and out of residential driveways and subdivisions. Since then, minor improvements have been made to partially remedy the left-turn problem, with additional improvements focused on traffic flow. These included widening US-12 at major intersections such as Industrial Park Drive and State Street/Moon Road; traffic signal changes; and a new signal installation at the US-23 interchange. The growing need for additional travel capacity on US-12 between Saline and I-94 was recognized during the 1990s as well.

In 1991, MDOT initiated an engineering and environmental study to select a recommended alternative for proposed improvements to the US-12 study area. At that time, Parsons Transportation Group, Inc. (PTG) was retained by MDOT to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for improvements to US-12 between the eastern city limits of Saline and Munger Road. The purpose of the EIS study was to evaluate the widening of US-12 to either a four-lane urban boulevard or a five-lane urban arterial, along with a reconfiguration of the US-12/US-23 interchange.

During the early preliminary engineering and environmental study, several design alternatives were proposed to address the need to improve US-12. Design alternatives eliminated from further study included a rural five-lane arterial and a rural boulevard, primarily because these alternatives would require much more right-of-way than the urban alternatives. A full cloverleaf interchange alternative at US-12/US-23 was also eliminated due to the amount of land required to construct it, and the impact it would have on wetlands. This study also concluded that the Transit/Transportation Demand Management (TDM) and Transportation Systems Management (TSM) alternatives could not, by themselves, serve the projected transportation demand along US-12, and therefore these alternatives were eliminated from further consideration.

Due to state funding limitations, US-12 studies ended in 1994 before the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was issued for review and comment by regulatory agencies and the public. No recommended solution was brought forth at that time.

In 1999, MDOT commissioned PTG to conduct the US-12 Improvement Project: Feasibility Study of Five-Lane Alternative to determine the feasibility of improving the US-12 roadway from two lanes (one travel lane in each direction) to five lanes (two travel lanes in each direction with a center left-turn lane) throughout the study limits. The Study concluded that it was feasible to construct a five-lane roadway in the US-12 study area.

The US-12 Improvement Study represents the combined efforts of several federal, state, and local agencies. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) coordinates the planning and construction of roadway projects that fall under the State of Michigan's jurisdiction. As specified in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), MDOT's Bureau of Transportation Planning has the responsibility for developing multi-modal statewide and regional system plans for highways.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), although not responsible for planning specific state and local projects, has established certain requirements that must be satisfied for a project to be considered for federal funding. All federally funded highway projects must receive FHWA approval at various stages of the planning process.

According to federal regulations, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. However, for 30 years the federally mandated urban transportation planning process has occurred at two levels in the study area:

- SEMCOG is a seven-county region of southeast Michigan consisting of regional agencies and governmental units. SEMCOG conducts transportation planning and maintains the federal eligibility of communities and transportation providers within the entire region.

- Washtenaw Area Transportation Study (WATS) is a group of federal, state, and local officials responsible for promoting and coordinating the urban transportation planning process. WATS coordinates and prioritizes transportation improvement projects and provides technical assistance to Washtenaw County-area cities, villages, and townships in implementing the area transportation plan.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and a Pass-Through of Funds Agreement now exist between SEMCOG and WATS. As a result, WATS functions as an independent sub-study within SEMCOG.