ALGOMA TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- After an entire season of dealing with construction on US-131 between 14 Mile and 17 Mile, drivers will have to deal with construction again, according to plans at the Michigan Department of Transportation. This time, the road project will involve rebuilding US-131 between 10 Mile and 14 Mile.
(NOTE: At the end of the video above, reference is made to the MiDrive app. MDOT is no longer supporting the app, but the web site is still active and useful.)
The project is unique in a couple of ways.
First, the design of the highway is a test of new highway building techniques intended to reduce conditions that cause pavement deterioration. "With proper maintenance, it should last 50-plus years. That's the goal," says MDOT Grand Region spokesperson John Richard.
The main culprits in pavement deterioration, especially concrete, are water and the chemicals used to clear snow and ice during Michigan's winters. New techniques in highway construction address improving drainage and the materials used in the pavement.
These new techniques were used in the reconstruction of US-131 using asphalt between 14 Mile and 17 Mile. The highway will be rebuilt using concrete between 10 Mile and 14 Mile.
Another innovation will be used in traffic control in the construction zone.
During the 2017 project, two lanes were kept open during most of the project using a different traffic control layout. For instance, while the northbound pavement was replace, one lane was kept open on the northbound side and three lanes -- one northbound and two southbound -- were open on the southbound side.
During the 2018 project, one side of the highway will be completely closed with three lanes used on the other side instead of two -- one in each direction -- as has been customary. To keep traffic moving during high volume periods, the center concrete barrier will be moved every day so that southbound will have two lanes in the morning and northbound will have two lanes in the afternoon.
Special linked concrete barrier segments will be moved every day by a specially designed machine that will accomplish the unusual maneuver during midday. (See video below)
MDOT using the new machine in 2017 during a project in the Bay City area and considered the test a success.
Construction is scheduled to begin in early spring and continue into November 2018.