Cynical Synapse

Mon, 28 Jul 2008

Road Construction Cones Set by State Budgets?

Filed under: Behavior, Driving, Michigan, Rants — cynicalsynapse @ 10:12 pm

It’s not unique to Michigan, but those of us who live in the mitten state think of 2 seasons—winter and road construction. Michigan residents know global warming is fact because the winters are shorter. Road construction starts earlier every year and extends well into the fall season.

How many road construction zones have you seen, with countless cones, but no actual working going on? I’ve come to the conclusion that state budgets are set, not on tax revenues or expenditures but, on the number of construction zone cones required to disrupt efficient traffic movement.

In spring of this year (2008), MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) closed I-75, the major north-south freeway in Detroit, for the so-called “Gateway Project.” This plan builds new interchanges between I-75, I-96, and the Ambassador Bridge, which connects the US with Windsor, Ontario.

In June, MDOT closed 2 of 4 lanes on I-696, both west and east bound, to repair joints and other flaws. The project was completed before July, but now half the eastbound lanes are closed again in the same area. Why? I can only presume it must be there are a certain number of cones required by the state budget…

Do the transportation engineers, managers, and elected officials not realize John Q. Public can see the miles of closed lanes (using those contracted barrels) with no real work going on? And why does a major metropolitan area, like Detroit, end up with lane or full freeway closures that virtually make getting around impossible?

So, I-75 is closed for the Gateway Project in southwest Detroit. And, despite June’s construction along I-696, the northern tier artery suffered 2 of 4 lanes closed for construction. There are also several bridgework projects on I-75 bridges in the metro area. I-94 is closed at I-96. So, the major north-south route is closed, the alternate includes a 50% reduction in capacity, and the east-west route has to funnel into the north-south route.

Kinda gives new meaning to the concept of “you can’t get there from here,” doesn’t it?



  1. Here’s what I propose:

    1. Limit the truck weights – this would cut down on a lot of wear and tear.
    2. Get some toll roads – I know we all hate them, but the Ohio system of getting a ticket when you get on and paying when you exit is pretty good.
    3. Hire some better workers – I don’t know what it is, whether it’s MDOT or the contractors, but somebody out there is a heck of a lot lazier than they should be.

    Comment by inkslwc — Wed, 30 Jul 2008 @ 2:11 am

  2. My, my, my, there IS a reason for everything. Take an alternate route and quit yer biotching already.

    Comment by josi — Thu, 07 May 2009 @ 7:15 am

  3. Point is, MDOT schedules construction on the main alternate routes, too! Case in point: this year (2009), 2 lanes are closed on I-696, but there’s also bridge work taking place on M-102, the closest “alternate” route. I-75 is closed at I-94, but I-275 has lane closures as well. MDOT’s not leaving any good choices for alternate routes.

    Comment by cynicalsynapse — Thu, 07 May 2009 @ 9:24 pm

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