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Frequently Asked Questions

M-59


Q: What is being done on the M-59 Improvement Project?

A: The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will invest $63 million to reconstruct 3.7 miles of M-59 (Hall Road) through Sterling Heights, Utica, and Clinton, Macomb, and Shelby townships. Work will include new pavement and improved drainage, traffic operations and pedestrian access. Enhanced landscaping and other aesthetic improvements are planned as well.

Q: How will landscaping in the median be impacted?

A: Trees will be removed in areas where construction activities will take place, such as digging new detention basins, similar to those done in Phase I. In other cases, we will remove trees because of road widening: Three lanes will be widened to four lanes with a 10′ shoulder. Landscaping, including trees, will be added to the median at project completion.

Q: How much will the project cost?

A: The preliminary construction budget for Phase I and Phase II is $65 million.

Q: When will this project be completed?

A: Beginning March 2017, work will occur from M-53 to west of Garfield Road in 2017. In 2018, construction will proceed from west of Garfield Road to Romeo Plank Road. The project is expected to be finished in October 2018.

Q: How will traffic be affected?

A: Three lanes will be open in each direction on M-59 from Delco Blvd to Romeo Plank every day, including weekends, except 9 p.m. – 6 a.m. When working on the M-59 bridges over M-53, two lanes will be maintained. Backups and delays are expected. All businesses will remain accessible during construction.

Q: What are you doing to ensure the pavement will last?

A: Although regular road maintenance is expected on any project, we have incorporated the latest technologies on M59 to increase its life:
1. Hot-mix asphalt (HMA) must be placed at temperatures often exceeding 250F, and to last, it’s extremely important that ALL of the pavement is hot, with no cold spots. One of the ways that our contractor ensures that this happens is to use a material transfer device. This device is placed in the front of the paver and ensures that all the HMA gets from the truck to the paver efficiently and thoroughly. This prevents some of the HMA from sitting in the side of the front of paver and cooling off before it can get placed on the roadway.
2. One of the ways that pavements begin to fail is when joints between the lanes open up and allow moisture in. we are echelon paving (36′ across–not lane by lane) to reduce the number of joint and possible entry points for water. When you add that to our drainable base/additional underdrains, we are greatly reducing the risk of trapping water and freeze/thaw problems that diminish pavement life.

Q: Will there be street lighting on M59?

A: Lighting is not part of this reconstruction project. We suggest that you contact your city representatives to discuss their lighting plans.

Q: Can you lay pavement in cold weather?

A: Yes, we can lay pavement in the cold and constantly monitor asphalt temperature for optimum compaction.

Q: Does MDOT ask companies to provide warranties for their work?

A: Yes, contractors are held responsible for materials, workmanship and performance warranties. They must perform all corrective actions at no cost to MDOT, which conducts cursory and detailed inspections throughout the warranty period.

Q: What material are you using to repave the road?

A: We are using hot mixed asphalt. All materials in the HMA come from certified sources with quality control and assurance testing done regularly. Our top layer of asphalt is what is called a gap-graded superpave. This mix is used in high traffic areas because it performs the best. It is a specialized mix that has strict aggregate requirements, higher asphalt content and generally results in longer service life.

Q: Is concrete being planned for any part of this project to make the road more robust for heavy trucks?

A: This project is a full depth hot mix asphalt (HMA) construction job. No concrete is planned. Calculations have been performed that show that the thickness of the HMA is equivalent to what we would have built if we were using concrete.

Q: How does MDOT decide on whether to use concrete or asphalt?

A: MDOT conducts a life cycle cost analysis on the quality materials it uses. In this analysis, planners and engineers study:
• the cost of maintaining the road
• the amount and type of traffic
• the cost of paving material.
Visit How to Build a Road for more info: http://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,4616,7-151-9615-129011–,00.html

Q: Are you putting in a protected bike lane on M59?

A: No, however, there will be a connected sidewalk from Garfield to M-53 on both sides of M-59. We will upgrade all ramps and sidewalks to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and new sidewalks will be added to fill in the missing gaps along M-59.

Q: What is being installed/designed to make pedestrian crossings safer and to make Macomb more walkable and bikeable? Any curb extensions?

A: There will be pedestrian crossings at each of the four major intersections (Schoenherr, Hayes, Garfield, and Romeo Plank). In addition, we are adding crossings at Delco, two to Lakeside Mall, one to Partridge Creek Mall, and two more at residential complexes near M-59. These will all be at signalized intersections with sidewalks running through the median. In addition, at each location, we will add decorative crosswalks to further delineate where pedestrians should safety cross. These will not only split up long sections, but provide access at high pedestrian volume areas.

Q: Did you reduce the height of the median on Hall Road? More berm is needed to reduce the noise of traffic.

A: We’re not reducing the height of the median. Our contractor graded the median to match the pre-existing elevations with the exception of the new ponds we are building. Next Spring, we will plant the landscaping, which will ultimately reduce overall noise.

Q: How much planning goes into road closure decisions so that motorists are not so inconvenienced?

A: We balance our project schedule so each closure is coordinated with the next one to minimize the impact on motorists.

Q: What are the long term benefits of this project?

A: This project will improve stability, make traffic flow better, and extend the life of the roadway by 20 years.

Q: How are safety issues addressed in construction zones?

A: Speed limits through construction areas are reduced (usually to 45 MPH) to assure safety to workers and other motorists. A recently adopted state law doubles fines for speeding in construction zones.

Q: When I drive through some construction areas, I see speed limit signs and orange barrels, but no workers. If there is no work going on at the site, why are posted speed limits so low and why are all the barrels still out there?

A: MDOT is working to minimize the adverse effects of highway construction on motorists.

Guidelines for speed limits in Michigan work zones were revised in 2006. Motorists are required to reduce their speed to 45 mph in any work zone where workers are present. If no workers are present, motorists should maintain the posted speed limit. More information on this change is available in the Safety Programs FAQ.

Another aspect of this program is nighttime construction. You may not see anyone working in these areas until the sun and traffic volumes go down. On other projects, contractors are not allowed to work during busy hours. All highway construction work is normally suspended during holidays. Other factors such as inspection activities, soil conditions, weather factors and production schedule may also give the appearance of minimal activity, but greatly impact the construction of the project.

Q: Where can I get current road condition information for Michigan roads?

A: In the Metro Detroit area, call 1-800-641-MDOT (6368). Visit www.michigan.gov/drive.com and/or the Roads & Travel page of the MDOT Web site at www.michigan.gov/mdot.com for additional information.

Q: How do you get restitution for property damage caused by road building crews?

A: To be compensated for either construction- or maintenance-related damage, you need to contact your local MDOT Transportation Service Center (TSC). TSCs are located throughout the state. Once submitted, a complaint will be filed with the claims department.

Q: I was stuck in a construction backup for over an hour. Isn't there a better way to do highway work that minimizes such delays?

A: Yes, there is. On many road construction projects, crews will work at night – when there is less traffic – to minimize disruption for motorists. Also, MDOT offers a financial incentive/disincentive plan to contractors to encourage jobs being completed early, resulting in roads and bridges opening faster to motorists. If work must be completed during the day, special care is taken so lanes are not closed during peak hours such as morning/afternoon commutes, on weekends (especially during the summer months), and for special events.

Political Signs

Q: What are the rules regarding the placement of political signs along Michigan roads?

A: Each year, hundreds of political signs line roadsides across the state. Improperly placed signs can create safety hazards and interfere with a driver’s vision along roadways. To maintain traffic safety, while affording office-seekers the opportunity to inform the public, the following rules govern the placement of signs:

  • Political candidates are responsible for obtaining approval from the adjacent property owner to place the signs.
  • Signs must be removed within 10 days following an election.
  • Signs must be more than 30 feet from the edge of the roadway (white line) for highways that do not have barrier-type curbs. For highways with barrier curbs, the signs must be more than three feet from the back of the curb.
  • Signs are not permitted within areas used for clear vision at intersections or commercial driveways, so they will not interfere with the sight distance of a driver. No signs may be placed within the limited access rights-of-way.
  • Any illegally placed signs will be removed. Signs removed by MDOT crews will be kept for seven days at a local MDOT office or maintenance garage, then discarded.

For information on other types of highway signs, see Highway Advertising Signs and Logo Signs & Tourist Oriented Signs


Potholes


Q: What causes potholes?

A: Potholes occur when snow and ice melt as part of Michigan’s seasonal freeze-thaw cycles. The resulting water then seeps beneath the pavement through cracks caused by the wear and tear of traffic. As the temperatures cool to freezing at night, the water becomes ice and expands below the pavement, forcing the pavement to rise. As the weight of traffic continues to pound on this raised section – and the temperatures once again rise above freezing – a shallow divot occurs under the surface and the pavement breaks, forming a pothole. A pothole is typically fixed by cleaning out the loose debris and filling it with hot and cold asphalt patch.

Q: How do I file a claim for damages to my vehicle caused by a pothole?

Roads

Q: I have seen big symbols (X, +, V, T) painted along state trunklines. What are these symbols, and what are they used for?

A: The X, +, V, and T are symbols used for aerial surveys and are painted on or alongside the road large enough to be legible in survey photographs.

The symbols are ‘targets’ an aerial photograph; there is no meaning to the different shapes or configurations of the markings.
A survey crew is dispatched to survey the location of these targets and assign coordinates to each.

When the survey is completed, the spatial relationship between each of the targets is known, such as the distance between them and the difference in elevation. This information is provided to an MDOT “photogrammetrist,” an aerial mapper.

The photogrammetrist loads two aerial photos into a machine called a “stereoplotter.” Each pair of photos overlap each other so that each inch of roadway is photographed from two positions to create a 3D view. (Similar to toy stereo viewmasters where two photos are inserted in the viewmaster to make a 3D picture.)

When the photogrammetrist views the targets in the 3D view, he can assign the coordinates given to him by the surveyor. Once this is complete, the relationship between the ground distances and the distances on the photo are known.

Once the relationship between the ground distances and the distances on the photo are known, any distance measured on the photo can be equated to its true distance on the ground, and a true scale map can be made of everything that can be seen on the photo.
Who do I contact for general questions about Michigan’s Heritage Route Program’s nomination and designation process? How can I obtain the application forms for nominating Heritage Routes?
For general questions about the Heritage Route Program and the application process call Peter Hanses, Heritage Route Program Manager (517) 335-2934. You can also visit the Heritage Route Website by following the link below.

Who can I talk to about trucks speeding or tailgating, or other truck safety issues?

Please contact the MICHIGAN CENTER for TRUCK SAFETY at) 800-682-4682, FAX 517-321-0864.

Q: I have heard that Michigan truck weight laws are the most liberal in the nation. Is this true?

A: Michigan permits trucks up to 164,000 pounds on the system. However, different than other states, Michigan requires a lower weight per axle, which more evenly distributes the load and reduces wear and tear on roads. MDOT engineers have thoroughly studied this issue and the result of this research is that heavier trucks do not cause a disproportionate amount of damage as long as the weight is evenly distributed over an appropriate number of axles. Additionally, trucks over 80,000 pounds make up only less than 5% of all trucks operating on our roads. If Michigan were to reduce its truck weight laws to 80,000 pounds, more damage to the system may occur because of the need to put more trucks on the road. More trucks on the road raise serious questions concerning safety and traffic congestion. Several other states are currently looking at Michigan’s axle weight laws and are considering adopting similar laws.

Q: Who is responsible for plowing snow on state highways?

A: MDOT is ultimately responsible for routine maintenance on all state highways, and these services include snowplowing, pothole filling, grass cutting, street sweeping, guardrail repair and other services. MDOT performs maintenance with direct forces (state employees) in 20 counties throughout the state, and in the balance of the state we contract with county road commissions and cities/villages to perform these services.

Q: How long does it take to build a new road?

A: National experience indicates it takes an average of seven years to construct a new roadway from the time when the route location is selected. However, it is often difficult to identify the time frame for a new construction project. The construction of a completely new roadway involves a number of complex and involved processes such as land appraisal and purchase, environmental assessments, soil conditions, economic impact concerns and local land use issues. Each of these must be carefully evaluated to assure that any adverse impacts are minimized and that those people and businesses that will be impacted by the project receive the proper assistance and advice. Additionally, litigations which include acquisition of right of way and condemnation proceedings often delay projects for years.

Q: Why doesn’t Michigan have toll roads?

A: It has not been considered economically feasible as Michigan is off the nation’s heavily used east/west corridors. A system of toll-free highways has been viewed as important to commerce, industry, tourism, and general economic development.

Q: Why is it that some roads which have been resurfaced last only a year or two before they start to break up again? Isn't this a waste of taxpayer dollars?

A: The Michigan Department of Transportation classifies road conditions in three categories: good, fair or poor. MDOT knows from experience that once a road deteriorates to the point that it is classified as poor, it will take five times more money to upgrade that road to good condition than it would have taken if the road had been repaired while still in fair condition. The Department often upgrades roads in stages to prevent the road from continued deterioration. The goal is to have 95 percent of our freeways in fair or good condition within 10 years, and 85 percent of our non-freeway roads in fair or good condition.

Q: Why do the speed limits vary on different parts of the freeway system?

A: With the exception of a limited number of urban freeway miles, State law sets maximum speed limits on “US,” “I” and “M” routes at 70 mph. In densely populated (urban) areas where there are many exit and entrance ramps constructed close together, the speed limit is held to 55 mph. The speed limit for commercial trucks on all highways is never higher than 55 mph.
For more on speed limits, visit the Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP).

Q: What’s the difference between highways that carry the letters “US,” “I” and “M”?

A: “I” highways, such as I-94, are part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System which extends to all 48 mainland states. “US” highways extend to two or more states, and “M” highways begin and end within Michigan.

Q: How many miles of road does Michigan have?

A: For Michigan roadway length and vehicle miles traveled (VMT), please contact:
Don Howe
517-335-2901
howed@michigan.gov
Workzone Speed Limits
Why were the guidelines for work zone speed limits changed?
Since 1988, changes in the Michigan Vehicle Code have affected work zone speed limits in Michigan, resulting in different speed limit criteria being applied statewide. These inconsistencies have made enforcement difficult as motorists may see speed limits reduced 10 mph in one work zone, and then see 25 mph reductions in another work zone.

Q: What are the benefits of this change in guidelines for work zone speed limits?

A: Establishment and use of these guidelines will provide consistent application of speed limits in all work zones for the safety and protection of motorists and workers, allow for more effective and consistent enforcement, improve traffic flow, mirror federal guidelines, and reduce crashes, all of which will contribute to a safer work zone.

Construction Completed

Moving Macomb