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GRDadof3

Highway and Road Construction Updates

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MDOT would like to build fex lanes on 131, north of downtown Grand Rapids, similar to what they did on US 23 north of Ann Arbor, but funding is an issue.   An additional lane is much needed north of Grand Rapids.

https://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/2019/10/busy-stretch-of-us-131-in-grand-rapids-a-candidate-for-flex-route.html

 

Edited by mpchicago

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This morning there were two through lanes from WB 96 to WB 196.  Traffic in the far left lane was still backed up because I don't think anybody knew they opened the second lane.   Does anybody know when the second lane from EB 196 to 96 will open up?  EB 96 at Leonard?  

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2 hours ago, discgrab21 said:

This morning there were two through lanes from WB 96 to WB 196.  Traffic in the far left lane was still backed up because I don't think anybody knew they opened the second lane.   Does anybody know when the second lane from EB 196 to 96 will open up?  EB 96 at Leonard?  

They haven't even finished excavating yet (the roadbed for the highway isn't built on either side of the new bridge). I'd be surprised if it's done in October as planned but maybe they'll double time it in the next few weeks. 

I noticed today they've cleared all of the peninsulas out of the Grand River used to expand the bridge. Looks back to normal again, and flooded. 

 

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9 hours ago, mpchicago said:

MDOT would like to build fex lanes on 131, north of downtown Grand Rapids, similar to what they did on US 23 north of Ann Arbor, but funding is an issue.   An additional lane is much needed north of Grand Rapids.

https://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/2019/10/busy-stretch-of-us-131-in-grand-rapids-a-candidate-for-flex-route.html

 

Yes please, 131 is awful north of DT. Although a lot of that is due to ramps being on both sides, with traffic trying to shoot from one side of the highway to the other in short distances, so I'm not sure it'll fix things too much...

Edited by tSlater

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The only thing the flex lanes are good for is when there’s not enough right away for both directions to add lanes and they are reversible, otherwise add a real/full size/24-7 lane in both directions. 3 lanes is standard in most urban areas 

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11 hours ago, GR8scott said:

The only thing the flex lanes are good for is when there’s not enough right away for both directions to add lanes and they are reversible, otherwise add a real/full size/24-7 lane in both directions. 3 lanes is standard in most urban areas 

Right on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! North of Ann to 10 Mile needs a 3rd lane. Over 6 Mile was widened years ago, theres plenty of room at Pine Island and Post.  The problem with MDUM is they can't just add a 3rd lane, they think they need to rebuild the entire thing.  And the stupid things they do. NB 131 north of 11 Mile, their 50 year design has ditches so deep it needs guard rail:rolleyes:  An enclosed storm sewer would have been cheaper and safer.

18 hours ago, discgrab21 said:

This morning there were two through lanes from WB 96 to WB 196.  Traffic in the far left lane was still backed up because I don't think anybody knew they opened the second lane.   Does anybody know when the second lane from EB 196 to 96 will open up?  EB 96 at Leonard?  

I think people slow down to look in the hole. I was expecting to see Chinese coolies working down there lol. The overhead signing leaves a bit to be desired as well. The I-96 lanes need to have the signs cocked right, not straight up. I passed that along:)

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5 hours ago, Raildude's dad said:

Right on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! North of Ann to 10 Mile needs a 3rd lane. Over 6 Mile was widened years ago, theres plenty of room at Pine Island and Post.  The problem with MDUM is they can't just add a 3rd lane, they think they need to rebuild the entire thing.  And the stupid things they do. NB 131 north of 11 Mile, their 50 year design has ditches so deep it needs guard rail:rolleyes:  An enclosed storm sewer would have been cheaper and safer.

I think people slow down to look in the hole. I was expecting to see Chinese coolies working down there lol. The overhead signing leaves a bit to be desired as well. The I-96 lanes need to have the signs cocked right, not straight up. I passed that along:)

I took the newly opened right lane going from I-96 Westbound toward downtown earlier today. I was the only one in the lane and sailed right through. :)  There's one construction message sign that says both lanes open to downtown but I don't think people know what that means yet (they will). 

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So now there are four lanes carrying westbound traffic on those two highways but still one lane bottleneck right after the East Beltline exit carrying the load eastbound. It's too bad that they didn't cross a lane over to the other side or something to handle that uneven load. 

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Westbound has 3 lanes , left goes to I-196, center lane can go either way, right lane goes to I-96. Eastbound currently has the left lane going east, the right  to the EBL. I can't figure out for the life of me why it doesn't run at 50-60 mph instead of stop and go. There's no merging required. Other work zones even the cops have a hard time slowing traffic down to 60.

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I think people slow down to look in the hole. I was expecting to see Chinese coolies working down there lol. The overhead signing leaves a bit to be desired as well. The I-96 lanes need to have the signs cocked right, not straight up. I passed that along:)
The last thing we need to do is add more highway miles to a system we already can't pay for. I don't think this line of thought is too progressive... Why not invest all that money we'd spend building roads into transit services that could get people from Rockford, Cedar Springs, even up to the county line to downtown without adding to traffic congestion? If we continue to rely on cars, it's an unsolvable problem.

Knowing MDOT, though, y'all will get your wish eventually.

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While I get what you’re saying, I think we have a long way to go to make that feasible. I think we have a last mile problem. Unfortunately, businesses aren’t concentrated enough in one specific area. Also, even if you took people smack dab in the middle of the city, I don’t think a lot of people would get in their car, drive to a parking area to wait for transit, ride downtown, walk 5-10 blocks (heck, some people wouldn’t walk one block).  We don’t have the funding, but I’d hope that they’d take a balanced approach. Beef up what we have, while also investing in transit. 
 

I have an easier time believing autonomous vehicles will take over before people accept mass transit en masse. And I don’t think we’re anywhere close to seeing significant traffic from autonomous vehicles (20, 30 years?). 
 

with that being said, I don’t think we should stop trying. :)

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While I get what you’re saying, I think we have a long way to go to make that feasible. I think we have a last mile problem. Unfortunately, businesses aren’t concentrated enough in one specific area. Also, even if you took people smack dab in the middle of the city, I don’t think a lot of people would get in their car, drive to a parking area to wait for transit, ride downtown, walk 5-10 blocks (heck, some people wouldn’t walk one block).  We don’t have the funding, but I’d hope that they’d take a balanced approach. Beef up what we have, while also investing in transit. 
 
I have an easier time believing autonomous vehicles will take over before people accept mass transit en masse. And I don’t think we’re anywhere close to seeing significant traffic from autonomous vehicles (20, 30 years?). 
 
with that being said, I don’t think we should stop trying.
I definitely see your point on the last mile issue. There are big employment centers in every corner of the metro.

I do think people will undertake the process you've described above *if driving is inconvenient enough.* As long as we can find a way to put money into transit as the city/řegion continues to grow, it will work. Hell, look at the West Michigan Express. That project has generated a lot of interest from people who I thought would never want to do anything but drive.

A big issue I have with adding more lanes (besides those I've already voiced) is this: I've only been here for a couple years, but I've been here long enough to drive all around the metro at all times of day, and outside of rush hour (which *has* gotten longer) the traffic is not bad. Even during rush hour, it's busy, but not soul-crushing, and what we're left with outside of rush hour are these big, empty roads that aren't serving any purpose other than taking up space.

We've been trying this approach since the 50s. There has to be a better way, right?

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11 hours ago, Raildude's dad said:

Westbound has 3 lanes , left goes to I-196, center lane can go either way, right lane goes to I-96. Eastbound currently has the left lane going east, the right  to the EBL. I can't figure out for the life of me why it doesn't run at 50-60 mph instead of stop and go. There's no merging required. Other work zones even the cops have a hard time slowing traffic down to 60.

In my opinion it's because the cut-over to the new section (where it splits I-96 East and East Beltline traffic) is TOO STEEP of an angle, with barrels/barricades on both sides. I think it scares the bejeezus out of more "cautious" drivers which starts the domino effect of slowing everyone behind them to a crawl/stop phenomenon. That and trucks going through there have to slow way down. 

Maybe that's their intention, to slow everyone down. 

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It's time to close the NB 131 Wealthy St exit.

Picture yourself heading on NB at a healthy clip in the left lane of 131 and as you top the slight hill you see cars stopped immediately in front of you lined all the way down the ramp bleeding into the left lane, forcing a split second decision to hit the brakes hard or hope you've got room to veer into the middle lane, the last car in line praying they're not rear-ended.  Now imagine if it's a loaded truck barreling in that left lane who doesn't have the advantage of a short braking distance.

This is exactly the scenario I've seen played out half a dozen times lately.  It makes you wonder just how many exits/entrances are going to have to close before any semblance of highway improvements happen.  Managing traffic signals is hitting limitation.

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2 hours ago, arcturus said:

It's time to close the NB 131 Wealthy St exit.

Picture yourself heading on NB at a healthy clip in the left lane of 131 and as you top the slight hill you see cars stopped immediately in front of you lined all the way down the ramp bleeding into the left lane, forcing a split second decision to hit the brakes hard or hope you've got room to veer into the middle lane, the last car in line praying they're not rear-ended.  Now imagine if it's a loaded truck barreling in that left lane who doesn't have the advantage of a short braking distance.

This is exactly the scenario I've seen played out half a dozen times lately.  It makes you wonder just how many exits/entrances are going to have to close before any semblance of highway improvements happen.  Managing traffic signals is hitting limitation.

I watch accidents daily out my window at work. 

That whole section is an antiquated mess. I always wondered why there were so many wrong way collisions on that stretch of highway (many were alcohol related). But as I've spent a lot of time down here, getting on the expessway off Century is a mess. Definitely built for a different time. 4 way stops with off-ramps and on-ramps right next to each other. I can see why people end up going the wrong way, and now it kind of freaks me out to drive northbound or southbound on 131). It's always been that way, but I never knew how messed up the onramps/offramps were until recently. And now it freaks me out a bit. ;)

Would still love to see Wealthy Street go under 131 at some point, but I'm sure that's a pipe dream. :)

 

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On 10/6/2019 at 9:16 AM, GRDadof3 said:

In my opinion it's because the cut-over to the new section (where it splits I-96 East and East Beltline traffic) is TOO STEEP of an angle, with barrels/barricades on both sides. I think it scares the bejeezus out of more "cautious" drivers which starts the domino effect of slowing everyone behind them to a crawl/stop phenomenon. That and trucks going through there have to slow way down. 

Maybe that's their intention, to slow everyone down. 

Drove it tonight EB. Traffic running smooth, light traffic in the rt lane, a little heavier in the left. About the last set of signs saying EBL Right and left lane to I-96, the brake lights come on in the left lane like "which lane am I supposed to be in?" The actual split area was empty, rt lane was running a decent speed. My daughter said the other morning a semi stopped dead in the left lane before the split.   The  lane to I-96 could be a little wider, I'll agree to that.

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5 hours ago, arcturus said:

It's time to close the NB 131 Wealthy St exit.

Picture yourself heading on NB at a healthy clip in the left lane of 131 and as you top the slight hill you see cars stopped immediately in front of you lined all the way down the ramp bleeding into the left lane, forcing a split second decision to hit the brakes hard or hope you've got room to veer into the middle lane, the last car in line praying they're not rear-ended.  Now imagine if it's a loaded truck barreling in that left lane who doesn't have the advantage of a short braking distance.

This is exactly the scenario I've seen played out half a dozen times lately.  It makes you wonder just how many exits/entrances are going to have to close before any semblance of highway improvements happen.  Managing traffic signals is hitting limitation.

I've often wondered when the Wealthy street interchange will get redesigned as I sit through countless light cycles on the Wealthy section.  It could use at least 3 more lanes going over the highway, similar to the I-196 interchanges at College and Fuller.  They had Wealthy west of Division closed for ages and didn't even touch it.  Everything about it is horrible, it's crumbling and I've seen countless people walking in the road to avoid the 12" curbs.

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3 hours ago, joeDowntown said:

I watch accidents daily out my window at work. 

That whole section is an antiquated mess. I always wondered why there were so many wrong way collisions on that stretch of highway (many were alcohol related). But as I've spent a lot of time down here, getting on the expessway off Century is a mess. Definitely built for a different time. 4 way stops with off-ramps and on-ramps right next to each other. I can see why people end up going the wrong way, and now it kind of freaks me out to drive northbound or southbound on 131). It's always been that way, but I never knew how messed up the onramps/offramps were until recently. And now it freaks me out a bit. ;)

Would still love to see Wealthy Street go under 131 at some point, but I'm sure that's a pipe dream. :)

 

I've explained this before. When the freeway (131) was being built, Rogers Plaza was being built on 28th St. The city fathers were scared to death of the new "mall" and in retrospect rightly so. So they helped pay for 131 right thru the center of town and insisted on twice  as many exits as needed so shoppers etc had easy access to the city and downtown.  The entrance and exit ramps are way too short for today's traffic and standards. They sold bonds to pay for it which were finally paid off 10-15 years ago. (50 year bonds? ) Wealthy Street had many RR tracks leading to the train station, freight houses, fruit growers express warehouse and a meat packing warehouse south of Fulton thus Wealthy over.

I found a set of plans from the 30's with 2 alternates at the tracks, going under with doorways into the basements of adjacent buildings and going over similar to what was designed in the 50's. My daughter also has worked on concept plans for a 4th lane etc and re-configuring the interchanges. These where shown at an MDOT open house at Rockford Construction several years ago. There was a nice conventional interchange laid out for Wealthy  which looked good until.................the Downtown Market was built effectively ending that option.

Also keep in mind the traffic is probably 20 times what it was in the 50's. I know for a fact I-96 at Whitneyville had an average daily traffic count of 2500 when it was built. MDOT's website says its 51,000 today. 131 downtown is currently 133,000 at Franklin and Pearl Street.

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On 10/5/2019 at 11:50 PM, 54equalsunity said:

The last thing we need to do is add more highway miles to a system we already can't pay for. I don't think this line of thought is too progressive... Why not invest all that money we'd spend building roads into transit services that could get people from Rockford, Cedar Springs, even up to the county line to downtown without adding to traffic congestion? If we continue to rely on cars, it's an unsolvable problem.

Knowing MDOT, though, y'all will get your wish eventually.

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk
 

Drive north from Grand Rapids leaving at 5:30 -6am. You will find many commuters coming from farther north than Rockford , Cedar Springs and Sand Lake and most are not going downtown.

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12 hours ago, draftpeppin said:

I believe I saw some fresh asphalt down on EB 96 between Leonard and the new overpass bridge this evening.  Crossing fingers that we're close to an opening.

Saw that too draftpeppin. And the roadbed appears to be down on the Eastern side of that new bridge as well. They are movin. 

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17 hours ago, draftpeppin said:

I believe I saw some fresh asphalt down on EB 96 between Leonard and the new overpass bridge this evening.  Crossing fingers that we're close to an opening.

Hey I know you IRL! We play tennis together. Didn't know you were on here. :offtopic:

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The new center median out in front of the DT post office has created a bit of an issue that I noticed this morning.

Driving east across the bridge (on Michigan/Bridge), if your destination is the post office, you used to be able to get into a center turning lane, right after you got across the river, and make an easy turn when opposing traffic has cleared while not blocking the eaisly congested eastbound lanes.

 

Now that center median runs too close to the bridge. That center turn lane is blocked before it gets to the entrance to the PO. In order to make a left turn from the eastbound side, you have to drive a short distance into the westbound lanes, and then make the turn! Something that will be insanely dangerous, and impossible to do especially during the peak traffic times.

 

You can drive down to the second entrance driveway a few yards away, but then you have to drive the wrong way into the front parking area and do weird turns to park because the spaces are angled only for the cars coming through the entrance that you had to pass up because you cant actually safely use it!

 

I'm hoping that I'm missing something because of all of the traffic cones made it look confusing, but if I got this right, then the traffic people really goofed badly here.

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6 hours ago, GR_Urbanist said:

The new center median out in front of the DT post office has created a bit of an issue that I noticed this morning.

Driving east across the bridge (on Michigan/Bridge), if your destination is the post office, you used to be able to get into a center turning lane, right after you got across the river, and make an easy turn when opposing traffic has cleared while not blocking the eaisly congested eastbound lanes.

 

Now that center median runs too close to the bridge. That center turn lane is blocked before it gets to the entrance to the PO. In order to make a left turn from the eastbound side, you have to drive a short distance into the westbound lanes, and then make the turn! Something that will be insanely dangerous, and impossible to do especially during the peak traffic times.

 

You can drive down to the second entrance driveway a few yards away, but then you have to drive the wrong way into the front parking area and do weird turns to park because the spaces are angled only for the cars coming through the entrance that you had to pass up because you cant actually safely use it!

 

I'm hoping that I'm missing something because of all of the traffic cones made it look confusing, but if I got this right, then the traffic people really goofed badly here.

It's meant to make the pedestrian crossing along the riverfront at Bridge more "pedestrian friendly." I'm not sure why though that the raised median goes that far East. Seems like overkill and an oversight. 

 

Highway updates:

https://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/2019/10/east-beltline-ramp-to-eastbound-i-96-will-close-for-interchange-project.html

Entrance ramp from Southbound Beltline to go Eastbound 96 will be closed for a week starting Nov. 1st. 

Also this for next year:

https://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/2019/10/nearly-8-million-in-work-planned-next-year-for-i-196-public-meeting-set.html

GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- A nearly $8 million construction project is in the works for I-196 between Market Avenue and U.S. 131 next year, state transportation officials say.

The road improvements are described as work to “improve 14 bridges, along with concrete joint repairs, asphalt resurfacing, and high-friction surface coating on both directions of I-196 between Market Avenue and US-131.”

 

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