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I-75/M-32 Interchange Rebuilding in Gaylord

  • Currently, MDOT and its consultant are considering four primary options for the interchange:

  • A Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) is an alternative interchange that improves safety, increases traffic flow, and reduces construction cost. Safety is improved by reducing the number of conflicting vehicle paths, while traffic flow is improved by eliminating the need for dedicated left-turn traffic signal phasing.

    Benefits include:

    • Reduced opportunities for collisions.
    • Greater capacity and efficiency.
    • Reduced backup congestion.
    • Easier navigation.
    • Meets needs of all road users.

    Examples of Diverging Diamond Interchanges in Michigan include:

  • A Single-Point Urban Interchange (SPUI) is a type of highway interchange. In a SPUI (pronounced "Spooey"), a single signalized intersection at the center of the interchange controls all left turns. Drivers make opposing left-turns at the same time under the protection of this signal. SPUIs are often considered in areas where right-of-way is tight or where storage for left-turn movements is otherwise limited.

    Benefits include:

    • Constructed where there is not enough room for a standard interchange.
    • Ideal for urban areas.
    • Allows more vehicles to make a turn and clear the interchange in one traffic signal cycle.
    • Allows long, gradual turns so larger vehicles have more room to navigate the interchange.
    • It can be coordinated with cross-street signal systems.

    Examples of Single-Point Urban Interchanges in Michigan include:

  • A double roundabout interchange would include a roundabout at the northbound and southbound entrance and exit ramp, eliminating the need for traffic signals or stop signs for traffic passing through the corridor or entering or exiting the interstate. Roundabouts can significantly improve safety by eliminating head-on and angle-type crashes that exist at signalized intersections.

    Benefits include:

    • Are becoming a more common intersection type that more drivers are familiar with
    • Do not require power to operate, and require less maintenance than a traffic signal
    • Reduce serious crash types that often result in injuries or fatalities
    • Keep traffic flowing, requiring only yielding to traffic within the roundabout

    Examples of interchanges with roundabouts in Michigan include:

  • Even if the interchange ramps and bridges are replaced in roughly the same location, there definitely will be other changes incorporated in the design. Several issues with the current design – the southbound I-75 off-ramp directly across from Dickerson Road, conflicts between westbound and eastbound traffic in the center left-turn lane, and difficulty with northbound Dickerson Road truck traffic making the sharp turn onto the southbound I-75 on-ramp – are all issues we would like to address with any project. Longer I-75 bridges might allow for additional turn lanes on M-32 and could accommodate at-grade pedestrian and bicycling pathways along M-32.

  • Design-Build (DB) is an alternative contracting method where MDOT enters into a single contract with a design-builder to design and construct a transportation facility. During the DB delivery process, MDOT, with input from industry, develops project-specific procurement and contract documents defining the performance requirements and obligations of the design-builder, while allowing flexibility to implement innovative solutions aligned with MDOT’s goals and objectives for the project. Whereas design and construction activities are completed sequentially in the traditional Design-Bid-Build (DBB) delivery method, these activities overlap in DB delivery to accelerate project completion.

    The DB process offers potential benefits not achievable with traditional DBB delivery methods, including:

    • A streamlined project delivery organization.
    • Optimized risk allocation.
    • Greater and/or earlier cost certainty.
    • Schedule acceleration.
    • Increased collaboration between designers and contractors, leading to fewer conflicts between design and construction and resulting in fewer design-related claims.
    • Increased competition.
    • Increased innovation in design and construction.
    • Minimized public cost and investment.
    • Better leveraging of limited public funds.
    • Improved life-cycle costs and/or quality
  • Dickerson Avenue is in such close proximity to I-75 that northbound trucks on Dickerson Road desiring to access southbound I-75 will always be a challenging movement.  With the various interchange options that will be studied, MDOT will look to shift the southbound I-75 on-ramp to the east to improve the aforementioned truck movement to the extent practical. 

    We are also exploring the possibility of relocating the Dickerson Road intersection with M-32. This could include minor adjustments to the intersection, or major re-routing of the traffic using Dickerson Road. At this point we are simply exploring this concept for feasibility.

  • Upgraded non-motorized facilities will be included, and a primary objective of this project is to improve overall safety and accessibility for non-motorized users regardless of the design alternative selected.

  • This is a possibility that would require city support and participation. Possibilities/alternatives will be provided to the city for consideration.

  • Traffic counts were collected with both temporary and permanent traffic recorders. A permanent traffic recorder on I-75 was used to count I-75 traffic. Traffic counts and turning movements on M-32 were collected with temporary traffic recording devices at the following intersections:

    • Murner Road
    • Meecher Road/Edelweiss Village Parkway
    • Ted Drive
    • Dickerson Road/Southbound I-75 off-ramp
    • Northbound I-75 off ramp and on ramp
    • West Street
    • Ohio Avenue
    • Wisconsin Avenue
    • I-75BL (Otsego Avenue)
    • Center Avenue (Old 27)

    Traffic counts for both I-75 and M-32 were collected from Thursday August 4, 2022, to Sunday August 7, 2022. Additional traffic counts were collected in December of 2022 to obtain counts during the school year.

  • MDOT predicts traffic increases based on the historical growth rate of traffic at the project location. An annual growth rate of 0.5 percent is being utilized for this location. The analysis considers the existing year (2022) and the future year (2045). The existing year is the year in which the traffic data was collected.

  • At this time, we are expecting construction could begin as early as the fall of 2025 and be completed as late as the spring of 2027. That does not mean the construction will take that entire period, but including all aspects of the project, such as utility relocation and restoration, may happen in that timeframe. A more definitive construction schedule will be set once MDOT hires a contractor for the project. 

  • At this time we expect to maintain one lane of M-32 traffic in each direction at all times, though M-32 will likely need to be closed and detoured for brief periods when the I-75 bridges are demolished, and when the new bridge beams are installed. We also expect to keep at least one lane of I-75 open in each direction, though freeway traffic may be detoured at times using the on- and off-ramps. As with the construction schedule, a plan to maintain traffic will be set once MDOT hires the project contractor. 

  • Because the M-32 corridor is as much of a destination as it is a roadway to other places, it’s doubtful that another crossing of I-75 in the Gaylord vicinity would result in significant traffic diversion. In other words, drivers are on M-32 in Gaylord because they are coming for something Gaylord has to offer. Another overpass would likely not see significant traffic, though it might be more convenient for a small number of drivers. 

    According to MDOT’s most recent traffic volume counts (2021), M-32 from I-75 to South Otsego Avenue had an average of 25,672 vehicles daily, dropping to 9,211 from South Otsego Avenue to the eastern city limits, and 3,731 east of the eastern city limits. M-32 west of I-75 to Murner Road had average daily traffic of 29,509 vehicles, dropping to 12,158 from Murner to Hayes Tower Road, and 6,996 vehicles west of Hayes Tower Road. That’s evidence that the vast majority of traffic on M-32 in Gaylord has an origin or destination on that corridor, rather than traffic passing from one end of the city to the other.

    As for a full interchange at McCoy Road, again, it’s doubtful this would result in significant traffic diversion. Putting new entry and exit ramps on I-75 at McCoy would be very close to the Exit 282 ramps, and extremely close to, if not touching, the Exit 279 ramps.

    In any case, additional overpasses or an interchange at McCoy would need to follow a separate planning process and identification of funding. This current planning process is being driven by the need to replace the I-75 bridges over M-32, a need that isn’t addressed with other interchanges or overpasses.

  • Over the years, The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has received inquiries about a potential interchange on I-75 at McCoy Road in the city of Gaylord. MDOT’s proposed I-75/M-32 interchange (Exit 282) reconstruction project has elevated these inquiries again. This I-75/M-32 interchange project is rooted in the need to replace the existing I-75 bridges over M-32 due to their poor condition. This also creates an opportunity for MDOT to evaluate and incorporate geometric, operational, and safety improvements at this interchange.

    Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requirements for new interchange proposals require that MDOT show that regional needs are not met with the existing interchanges to justify a new interchange. Preliminary input from FHWA indicated that there would have to be a compelling reason to allow a new interchange. This would be based on an extensive analysis that demonstrates a failure of the existing system to handle traffic demand. Analyzing the traffic volumes on I-75, merging traffic from on- and off-ramps, and the ability to clearly sign between the interchanges would also have to be completed and shown to be a minimal negative impact. MDOT must also show that the existing interchanges are optimized for today’s travel needs before a new interchange would be considered by FHWA.

    The 2004 I-75 Gaylord East-West Crossing Study conducted by the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments looked at the possibility of adding interchange on I-75 at or near McCoy/Milbocker Road (listed as Alternative 2) and found that, while it would provide the “best benefit for commercial truck access into the industrial areas near the airport, it does not solve peak hour traffic congestion problems at the two existing I-75 interchanges.” According to MDOT’s most recent traffic volume counts (2021), a large majority of traffic on M-32 in Gaylord has an origin or destination on that corridor and is not “pass-through” traffic. For that reason, a significant traffic diversion off M-32 should not be expected with a new interchange at McCoy Road. The operations and capacity of the I-75 Business Loop (BL) from McCoy Road to the south interchange (Exit 279) via I-75 BL currently provides a very good level of service. The extra distance to travel from McCoy Road to the existing south interchange is not seen as significant. Currently, and using predicted traffic volumes for 2045 with modest expected improvements, the north interchange operates at an acceptable level of service. The south interchange operates at an excellent level of service.

    A new interchange would be a substantial independent investment that is not seen to be feasible at this time due to high costs, right-of-way constraints, geometrics, limited physical space, and FHWA requirements. There are also safety and operational concerns with a new interchange that is only 1 mile away from an existing interchange. Any new interchange would be an independent project that is outside the purpose and need of the M-32 interchange reconstruction project. MDOT will continue to look at the safety and efficiency of the M-32 interchange as a secondary goal of the reconstruction project by investigating the feasibility of alternative designs, including both major changes and smaller improvements such as access control along surface streets, traffic signal control, modifying ramp terminals and intersections, adding turn bays, or lengthening vehicle storage. These are measures that will ensure this interchange meets the needs of regional traffic today and into the future.