MDOT Active Traffic Management lane on M14/US23 could solve traffic problems in Dexter

While the Michigan Department of Transportation’s plans for the 15-mile stretch of highway from the M-14/US-23 interchange to the US-23 Silver Lake Road exit seems like more of a regional boon for Ann Arbor’s traffic concerns on its face, some officials in the Dexter area are excited about the project’s implications for morning and evening traffic congestion on Main Street in downtown Dexter.

Dexter municipal government officials have been concerned with traffic congestion and traveling speeds through their small community and downtown for many years, resulting in numerous local transportation studies being commissioned over the past decade alone. One of those studies determined that 18,000 vehicles come through downtown Dexter each weekday.

“The reason our traffic counts are so high is because, we suspect, traffic coming from and going to Dexter-Pinckney Road,” said Jim Carson, Dexter City Council Liaison to the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study and Chelsea Area Planning Team/ Dexter Area Regional Team (CAPT/DART).

The next CAPT/DART meeting, which will be held on April 9 at a yet-to-be-determined location will include representatives from MDOT explaining the project. The major component of the work involves what is called an Active Traffic Management system that will function on a single shared expansion lane on the highway from M-14 near Ann Arbor all the way up to the Livingston County line.

The shared lane will change directions depending on the time of day to essentially expand the flow of traffic from Livingston County to Ann Arbor in the morning and back from Ann Arbor to Livingston County in the afternoon, due to the high number of Livingston County residents who commute to and from work in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County as a whole for work every weekday. (see the graphics below for a visual on how the ATM lane works)

“People have been experiencing delays on US-23 for many years,” said WATS Director Ryan Buck. “Making commute times more reliable is one of the most important things we can do to improve the situation on US-23 for travelers. The urgency of this project will vary depending on the individual traveler. With limited transportation dollars, MDOT and local agencies are forced to make difficult decisions on transportation priorities. That is why we have a public process and it’s important for the public to provide feedback on the project to MDOT.”

The project will cost $63.7 million and is currently fully funded by MDOT, according to Carson, who hopes that Livingston County commuters who bypass the gridlock on US-23/M-14 by traveling through downtown Dexter get the message.

“They never know what they’re going to find when they get out there,” Carson said of his community’s out-of-county neighbors to the north. “We don’t have exact numbers, but we do know that a large part of those 18,000 cars are coming from that direction.”

Officials in the Dexter area have struggled with traffic congestion concerns for a number of years. At one point a Parker Road bypass was on the table, which was an incredibly unpopular topic locally, particularly for neighbors in the area and given the fact that, at the time, the then new Dexter High School had been erected on Parker Road just south of Shield.

Those interested in more details on this project should keep an eye on for the location of the April 9 CAPT/DART meeting where more details will be revealed.

For a more detailed project summary scroll down to the embedded MDOT project summary document.

US23ActiveMgt1 In the morning the lane opens for southbound traffic and closes to northbound traffic.
US23ActiveMgt2 In the evening the expanded lane opens for those leaving Ann Arbor towards Livingston.

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