transportation

M I Curious
10:10 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

8 Mile Road is eight miles from where?

Road sign for 8 Mile Rd.
Credit Sean Loyless / Flickr

When Michael Imperiale moved to Michigan from Brooklyn, New York, he noticed the mile road system and wanted to know what it was all about. 

"I've asked people from time to time, occasionally, and no one seemed to know," Imperiale said. He's a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan. 

Asking his friends was a dead end, but that didn't stop Imperiale's curiosity. He took to M I Curious and asked a simple question: 8 Mile is 8 miles from where? 

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Transportation
2:22 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Will Ann Arbor succeed with its bike sharing program?

Heather Seyfarth and "Cooper" at the Clean Energy Coalition in Ann Arbor.
Doug Coombe

Bike share programs are not a new concept – there are successful bike share programs in major cities all throughout the world. If you travel around North America, you'll find citywide bike share programs in Chicago, New York, Boston, Austin, Des Moines, Denver, Boulder, D.C., Madison (WI), Minneapolis/St. Paul, Philadelphia, Columbus, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Baltimore, the Bay Area, Toronto, and Montreal, among others.  

At the end of September the new ArborBike bike share program in downtown Ann Arbor debuted, becoming the first and currently only public bike share program in southeastern Michigan. 

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Transportation
5:24 pm
Sun September 21, 2014

Good news for I-96 drivers

The project even has its own website, www.96fix.com
Credit 96fix/Facebook

I-96 will open tomorrow (Monday, September 22), more than two weeks ahead of schedule.  The stretch was closed between Telegraph and Newburgh Roads in Livonia. The announcement was made today as Governor Rick Snyder and others gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and walk on the freeway. I-96 was closed in April to allow crews to reconstruct the 7-mile stretch. Crews rebuilt 56 miles of freeway, repaired 37 bridges, and reconstructed 26 ramps. The project area runs through Redford Township and Livonia. 

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Transportation
2:24 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Revisiting the origin of the "Michigan Left"

A sign indicating a "Michigan Left".
User diablo234 SkyScraperCity

As part of our M I Curious project, Nick Ochal asked Michigan Radio this question:

What is the origin of the infamous "Michigan Left" that befuddles so many out-of-staters?

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Transportation
9:55 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Ceremony planned this morning for the M-1 rail project

Preparing track for the M-1 rail project in Detroit.
M-1 Rail Facebook

Dignitaries including Michigan Gov. Snyder, Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, Representatives John Dingell and John Conyers, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and business leaders Roger Penske and Dan Gilbert were on hand for a "track signing" ceremony this morning in Detroit.

The M-1 rail project is streetcar line planned for a 3.3. mile stretch along Woodward Ave. in Detroit. The project has received more than $35 million in federal funds, but the majority of its financing comes from private backers.

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Transportation
9:31 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Gov. Snyder says Metro Detroit flood underpins need for more road funding

Snyder has spent much of his first term as governor urging lawmakers to boost state infrastructure spending by more than a billion dollars a year.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder says massive flooding this week in and around Detroit reinforces the need to boost state spending on roads. Snyder says Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure may have played a role in the floods, although it’s too early to tell for sure.

“I don’t want to be premature, but you would imagine it would have some consequences in terms of magnifying the effect on the freeway flooding,” Snyder told reporters as he surveyed damage at homes and schools in Royal Oak on Friday. “That wouldn’t have affected the homes, but in terms of the freeway challenges.”

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Made In Michigan
6:19 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

That yellow traffic light? It was the invention of a Detroit police officer

Credit User: #96 / Flickr

    

It's hard to imagine driving without the guidance of the tri-color traffic light, isn't it?

Turns out, that tri-color light that keeps us from crashing into each other at intersections was the brainchild of a Detroit police officer.

Matt Anderson is curator of transportation at The Henry Ford museum complex. Anderson says there had generally been two lights – one telling us to stop and the other telling us to go. But William Potts, a Detroit police officer, found a way to make the lights safer.

“It was Potts’ inspiration to put in the third light, sort of amber caution, letting you know the signal change is imminent, so that you can prepare to slow down,” says Anderson.

Today, there are more than 3oo,000 intersections with traffic signals throughout the U.S.

And where was the first four-way traffic signal tower installed in the world?

It was at a corner of Woodward Avenue here in Detroit, says Anderson.

* Listen to the full interview with Matt Anderson above.

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Transportation
12:47 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Approaching construction on the highway? Experts say the "zipper merge" can help

Hurry up and wait near East Lansing.
user Jeff B Flickr

Everybody has their own philosophy when it comes to merging in construction zones.

Conventional wisdom on the roads seems to be that when faced with an approaching merge, you should just get over as soon as you can and just wait for your turn like a good little driver.

The people whizzing by in the open lane are looked down upon - morally corrupt drivers making a BAD decision refusing to get in line and wait for their turn. 

Watching the other drivers zoom ahead makes you feel like this:

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Stateside
12:01 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Where do auto museums flourish? Surprisingly, not in Michigan

All F1 Car story in Automobiles Museum of Turin
Credit Wikimedia Commons

There are many different auto museums – some dedicated to displaying cars with unique engineering and designs, and others dedicated to displaying the automobile’s impact on society.

Michigan's auto museums have had little success. Flint’s "Autoworld" theme park closed two years after opening, and the Walter P. Chrysler Museum closed its doors recently.

Europe has had a different experience.

Autostadt, which means “auto city” in German, is in Wolfsburg, Germany. It averages about two million visitors per year. BMW and Porsche also have notable museums in Germany.

Why do auto museums in Europe succeed, while those in the auto capital of the world have not?

“Europeans seem to have such a deep bond with their vehicles,” says Paul Eisenstein, publisher of  The Detroit Bureau. “They are seemingly more interested in the mechanicals and what have you. They have a tendency to be drawn to automotive exhibits, museums, parks, and everything at a much greater rate than Americans are.”

*Listen to our interview with Eisenstein at 3 p.m. today. We'll post the audio for that interview here around 4:30 p.m. 

Transportation
10:51 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

No wheels in the Motor City? New website seeks to help

Credit Shawn Wilson / Wikimedia Commons

In spite of its nickname, the Motor City has well-known transportation problems.

A large proportion of Detroiters don't own cars, and buses are notoriously late and overcrowded.

Now, residents have a new option.

It's a website based on a platform used at colleges, called detroit.ridepost.com.

Debra Rowe heads the Detroit Green Skills Alliance, which works on sustainability issues.

She convinced the person who created the platform to donate it, and says it will be useful for all kinds of people.

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Transportation
10:55 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Michigan considers aviation fuel tax increase

A typical Air BP fuel truck fills a Beechcraft Baron.

DETROIT – Michigan airport executives are seeking an aviation fuel tax increase to help make improvements and repairs at the state's 235 public airports.

The state House-approved plan would help general aviation and commercial airports avoid falling far short of more than $730 million needed for fixes in the next five years. The Detroit News reports (http://bit.ly/1pS2G1Y ) it's stuck in the Senate in part amid concerns by Delta Air Lines.

About $190 million in runway and taxiway reconstruction, as well as demolition work at the Smith and Berry terminals at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, is at stake as part of the state's five-year plan. Other major projects are planned in Grand Rapids, Flint and elsewhere.

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Transportation
11:25 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Seven mile stretch of I-96 will be completely closed starting tomorrow

Map showing where I-96 will be closed starting tomorrow.
Image by Mark Brush Map from MDOT

Construction crews will soon start working on the long stretch of highway east of I-275 that connects Detroit with outlying areas. Officials say the highway will be closed for six months. The project was originally scheduled to get underway in January, but weather delayed the start.

The freeway will be closed starting tomorrow at 7 a.m. Ramps will begin to close tonight starting at 7 p.m.

Transportation officials have put together a website to inform motorists, and they have been counting down the days on their Twitter handle:

More about the $148 million project from their website:

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is reconstructing a 7-mile stretch of I-96 from Newburgh Road in the city of Livonia to Telegraph Road in Redford Township. It will require complete closure of the interstate ... Work includes reconstructing the road and repairing 37 bridges, including on and off ramps. The project will bring the corridor to current design standards and improve safety. Clearances at the 37 bridges/overpasses also will be increased to improve safety.

Go here for more information about other major construction projects around the state.

*A previous post reflected the estimated closure time listed on MDOT's website - 7-12 months. An MDOT official said they expect the highway to be closed 6 months. The post is now updated.

Opinion
11:44 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Michigan lawmakers preparing a small patch for our roads

Despite appearances, those who make our laws sometimes do listen to those who elect them. Here’s one example happening right now. Anyone who drives knows that our roads are in terrible shape.

Nobody remembers them ever being this bad, especially in major urban areas. But the Legislature has stubbornly ignored appeals from Gov. Rick Snyder to fix them.

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Stateside
5:27 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Michigan legislators pondering speed limit increase

A Ford C-Max in a neighborhood.
Ford Motor Company

What matters more to you: Being able to drive faster, or being able to walk or ride your bike without dodging a speeding car?

That's how the battle lines are forming over a package of bills soon to be introduced in the state Legislature. It would allow the state to give drivers more leeway to put the pedal to the metal.

Tim Fischer is with the Transportation for Michigan coalition and the Michigan Environmental Council and he joined us today.

*Listen to our interview above.

Sports
2:13 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

The people working to grow the biking culture in Flint and Marquette

Biking in Flint, Michigan.
Issue Media Group

Cities like Ann Arbor, Portland, and Seattle are known for promoting biking in their cities, but biking hasn't found much of a foothold in many traditional Rust Belt cities.

Some people are trying to change that. Issue Media Group has two pieces profiling those people.

In their publication Mid-Michigan Second Wave, writer Kelli Kavanaugh looks at this trend in Flint. Kavanaugh spoke with Flint native Andy Stamps who founded the Berston Bicycle Club Project. 

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Stateside
5:40 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Are more of us making do without a car or truck?

Are more people walking?
user cme wikimedia commons

Are Americans driving less?

Some interesting statistics from the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute finds that from coast to coast, more of us are making do without a car or truck.

So, what's changing in the way younger Americans look at cars?

We're joined by Bridge Magazine writer Rick Haglund, who recently explored these questions in a piece titled "As Detroit auto show revs, America cools to car culture."

And we're joined by writer Micki Maynard, founder and editor in chief of Curbing Cars, a website that chronicles changing attitudes towards transportation. She's also a former Detroit bureau chief for The New York Times.

*Listen to the audio above.

Transportation
5:22 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Potholes straining road commission budgets

net_efekt Flickr

County road commissions are closely watching their budgets, after spending more than usual on winter maintenance this year.

Freeze-and-thaw cycles have caused a wave of potholes across Michigan.

"If winter is very expensive, that can impact our other activities that the road commission performs, but pothole filling is something of great importance for us and we will address that," said Jim Harmon, director of field operations for the Washtenaw County Road Commission. 

Gov. Rick Snyder called for $1.2 billion a year in additional money for fixing roads in last year's State of the State address. But his proposal failed to gain traction in the legislature. He's expected to try again this year.

Transportation
10:56 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Weather stalls Amtrak train for 8.5 hours in Michigan

An Amtrak train at the Ann Arbor station.
smaedli Creative Commons

NILES, Mich. (AP) - An Amtrak train carrying more than 200 people has arrived in Chicago after weather-related problems caused it to stop for more than eight hours in southwestern Michigan.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari says the train's engine lost power Sunday due to cold weather. But he says heat, lights and restrooms still worked.

The train started in Pontiac, north of Detroit, and had trouble between Niles and New Buffalo in the corner of southwestern Michigan. It was later connected to another westbound train and arrived in Chicago around 1:30 a.m. CST Monday.

Magliari says passengers may have been frustrated but they were always safe on the stalled train. He says it was better to keep them on the train rather than switch to buses, even if buses were available.

Transportation
5:23 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

American Airlines, US Airways agree to continue flights to six Michigan cities

Credit Morguefile

American Airlines and U.S. Airways have agreed to continue daily service to six Michigan communities for at least five years.

It's part of a settlement agreement reached with Michigan and five other states as part of the two airlines' proposed merger.

The affected cities in Michigan are Detroit, Flint, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Traverse City and Marquette.

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The Environment Report
8:30 am
Tue November 12, 2013

More bike lanes in Michigan mean more cyclists

You'll be seeing more of these signs in Michigan
Credit MDOT

More communities in Michigan are embracing bike lanes.

Grand Rapids plans to add 40 more miles of bike lanes in the next few years. Detroit has an aggressive approach to implementing them and they're popping up in places like Adrian and South Haven, not to mention the biking hot spots of Traverse City and Marquette.

Josh DeBruyn is the bike and pedestrian coordinator for MDOT. Part of his job is to deal with the applications that towns send him when they apply for grants to help install bike lanes.

DeBruyn says he gets double to triple the amount of applicants that he can actually fulfill for these kinds of grants.

He also says he hears from plenty of people and organizations about what he calls "motor vehicle angst" - or drivers who are frustrated and sometimes aggressive with cyclists.

You can listen to my interview with him here:

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