I-75 project to host nation’s first connected work zone

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

The Interstate 75 modernization project in Oakland County soon will host the nation’s first connected work zone, allowing for testing of vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.

More than three miles of the freeway between Coolidge and South Boulevard will be transformed over the next four months to improve safety and to test advanced vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies on connected and autonomous vehicles.

3M will provide the Michigan Department of Transportation with advanced all-weather lane markings, retroreflective signs with smart sign technology and dedicated short-range communication devices for communications.

What this means in a nutshell, according to MDOT spokesman Rob Morosi, is when drivers pass through work zones, they’ll see traditional information while their vehicles will see their own.

“There will be no change whatsoever for the drivers,” Morosi said. “They will see the same ‘work zone ahead’ signs. But their cars will read bar codes on posted signs, giving them this information and more.”

Morosi provided other examples of use, including: “If you’re driving down I-75 and four miles to the north, there’s adverse weather, roadside units will be communicating with vehicles and relaying slow down information.”

This modernization project will position Michigan to be among one of the first states to test connected vehicle infrastructure at this level. As vehicles become more automated and connected, existing road infrastructure must be updated to ensure safety and reliability of this emerging technology, according to MDOT.

“Technology is transforming not only how we live, but also how we drive,” State Transportation Director Kirk Steudle said in a statement. “Michigan is globally recognized as the leader in automated vehicle research and technology, and through our Planet M initiative, we have solidified ourselves as the hub for mobility innovation.”

The two-year, $90.8 million I-75 modernization project involves rebuilding more than 17 miles of the freeway from M-102 to south of M-59. That stretch carries up to 174,000 vehicles per day.

The project includes reconstructing the freeway, bridge replacement, upgraded road design, interchange improvements at 12 Mile, 14 Mile and the Square Lake Road Business Loop, ramp enhancements at M-102 and I-696 and a new drainage system for the corridor.

“The state of Michigan is leading the charge when it comes to the future of mobility, and we are looking forward to seeing where this partnership goes,” said John Riccardi, vice president and general manager of 3M Traffic Safety and Security Division, in a statement.

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