Posts Tagged ‘Lauren Podell’

What’s on Michigans Wish List this Holiday? Road Funding!

December 2, 2009

Local 4 Traffic Blog by: Lauren Podell

It’s an ongoing battle between state’s and the government: finding the money to fix crumbling roads across the country, especially here in Michigan. 

This morning, transportation officials met with Congressional leaders to urge the government to fund 9,500 transportation and road construction projects, totaling nearly $70 billion! The goal? To sustain and create hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide and improve the roads we drive on everyday!

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials released the list today in Washington. It includes 305 projects in Michigan with a nearly $1.4-billion price tag.

The projects MDOT are focusing on range from big reconstruction projects to smaller resurfacing project.

  • $115 million for I-69 between Miller Road and M-19 in St. Clair County
  • $45.6 million for Fort Street between Sibley and Goddard roads in Wayne County 
  •  M-15 and I-75 in Oakland County and I-94 in Wayne County

“We think transportation has proven it’s an effective way to get people back to work, and it almost always increases economic activity in the areas where improvements have been made”, Michigan Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Shreck said.

AASHTO executive director John Horsley said 10,600 transportation projects totaling more than $30 billion have been funded through President Barack Obama’s $787-billion American Recovery and Investment Act. About 9,000 of those were highway construction projects, and more than half are under way or finished.

**In the mean time we’ll keep our fingers crossed here in the mitten….


Construction updates: 11/19 – 11/23

November 19, 2009

Local 4 Traffic Blog by: Lauren Podell

Here we go again people! Another round of weekend construction is upon us. In *my* opinion, there really isn’t a whole lot! All pretty standard lane closures, no major closures EXECPT for tonight!  Below is full list released today from MDOT…enjoy! hehe


I-75 in Oakland County:

  • Ongoing bridge work will result in the full closure of northbound and southbound I-75 at Nine Mile Road beginning at 9 p.m. on Thursday and ending by 5 a.m. on Friday. During the full closure, all traffic will be routed to the service drives in each direction.


M-59 in Oakland County:

  • Westbound M-59 will be reduced to a single lane from Dequindre to Rochester roads beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 2 p.m. on Friday for ongoing road repairs.

US-12 (Michigan Avenue) in Wayne County:

  • Eeastbound Michigan Avenue will have the right lane closed from Oakwood Boulevard to Elm Street in Dearborn for utility work. The right lane closure begins at 9 a.m. on Friday and ends by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, November 24.


I-696 in Macomb County:

  • Eastbound and westbound I-696 will be reduced to a single lane between I-94and Hayes Road.
  • In conjunction to these lane closures, the ramp from westbound I-94 to westbound
  • I-696 will be closed. The lane and ramp closures are scheduled from 8 p.m. on Friday until 5 a.m. on Monday.

In Oakland County:

  • The right lane of westbound I-696 will be closed at Southfield Road for sign work beginning at 7:30 a.m. and ending at noon on Sunday.

I-94 in Wayne County, bridge inspections will result in the following lane closures:

  • Beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at noon on Saturday, the right lane of eastbound I-94 will be closed at the Southfield Freeway.
  • Beginning at noon and ending at 3 p.m. on Saturday, the left lane of eastbound I-94 will be closed at Southfield Freeway.
  • Beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at noon on Sunday, the left two lanes of westbound I-94 will be closed at Southfield Freeway.
  • Beginning at noon and ending by 3 p.m. on Sunday, the right lane of westbound I-94 will be closed at Southfield Freeway

US-24 Business Route (Square Lake Road) in Oakland County:

  • Eastbound and westbound Square Lake Road will be reduced to a single lane between Telegraph and Woodward beginning at 7 a.m. and ending at 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Use I-75 at 9 Mile? Look out!!

November 17, 2009

Local 4 Traffic blog by: Lauren Podell

The bulk of the 9 mile overpass re-construction begins tonight! MDOT teased us the past few weeks with a lane closure here and there but now it’s time to brace ourselves for freeway closures. Fortunately for you and me, they are nightly closure, but could create problems for evening drivers & early risers! 

What it looks like now...

The shutdowns this week are so crews can lay steel beams for the replacement bridge. “The fact that we’re already setting bridge beams in mid-November shows we’re serious about getting this bridge open by the end of the calendar year,” Morosi said.

So here is the complete schedule from The Michigan Department of Transportation:


  • All lanes of Southbound I-75 at 9 Mile CLOSE
  • An additional northbound lane during those hours.


  • All lanes of Southbound I-75 at 9 Mile CLOSE 
  • An additional northbound lane during those hours.


  • All lanes of Northbound I-75 at 9 Mile


  • Traffic is to be detoured using ramps at 9 Mile and the freeway’s service drive.
  • Drivers should consider alternates such as Woodward or John R

The tanker explosion!

The bridge reconstruction was ordered after a tanker caught fire under the 9 Mile Road bridge during a three-car collision in July. Bridge replacement work is expected to be finished in December. The I-75 freeway reconstruction is scheduled to begin in April and be completed in July 2010.


Winter Storm Cleanup to be SLOW this year!

November 3, 2009

Local 4 Traffic Blog by: Lauren Podell

raffles-city-christmasCan you believe it? Winter is right around the corner! I mean Thanksgiving is less than 4 weeks away. That means Christmas decorations are already on display at every mall in America…. and SNOW is on the brian. It won’t be long before we need to snow scrapers, defroster’s, and fleece gloves on a daily basis.  So that means MDOT and all of the counties road commissions are looking ahead to winter driving season! Specifically, the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) warns drivers that winter storm clean up this year may take longer than in past years due the agency’s reduced staff resulting from years of declining revenue.




 “In the past, we had 190 employees available to drive snowplows/salt trucks in the winter,” stated RCOC Board Chairman Richard Skarritt. “Today, we have 150. That’s a 21 percent reduction in available drivers.” ((NOT GOOD))snow-plow

Skarrritt added RCOC typically puts 106 snowplows/salt trucks on the road to battle a major snow or ice storm. The initial drivers can stay on the road for up to 16 hours ((wow, you thought your day was long!)) before they must rest ((for only 5 1/2 hours)), according to RCOC rules. In the past, RCOC was able to replace the initial 106 drivers with up to 84 drivers for a second 16-hour shift to continue fighting the storm or to clean up after the storm. This year, no more than 44 drivers will be available for the second shift ((ALSO, NOT GOOD)).


“The current fiscal year (2009/10) marks the fourth straight year in which our primary source of operating funds – revenue from the state gas tax and vehicle registration fees – has declined,” Skarritt explained. “Those four years of decline follow nearly 10 years of virtually flat revenues. We’ll receive less funding in the current fiscal year than we received in 2000.”

 RCOC maintains nearly all state roads in the county on a contract basis for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). MDOT has mandated a slightly lower level of service on some non-freeway state routes.

The impacted state routes are:

  1. Woodward (M-1)
  2. Northwestern Highway (M-10)
  3.  Grand River Ave. in Farmington Hills (M-5)
  4.  Rochester Road in Rochester Hills (M-150)
  5. Auburn Road in Rochester Hills (old M-59)
  6. Square Lake Road between Telegraph and I-75 (Business Route 75)
  7. Ortonville Road (M-15) north of Dixie Highway

On the impacted routes, MDOT has instructed RCOC not to clear the roads during overtime (anytime other than the normal weekday shift of 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) except during storms or unless otherwise instructed. For these roads, MDOT mandated that RCOC clear them to the point that the road is “generally bare of ice and snow” in the wheel tracks, and then finish clearing the next regular work day. In the past, RCOC would have cleared these roads to bare pavement regardless of the time.

State routes NOT affected by this are:

  1.  I-75
  2. I-696
  3. I-96
  4. M-59
  5. I-275
  6. the freeway portion of M-10
  7. the   M-5 extension
  8. US 24 (Telegraph)
  9. M-24 (Lapeer Road)

DDOT Bus Service feeling the pinch

August 24, 2009

newsteamToday kicks off the 1st of many meetings regarding changes being made to the Detroit Department of Transportation. A standing room only crowd filled a meeting room at Wayne County Community College East Campus this morning for hearings on proposed cuts to Detroit’s bus service.


Detroit_Bus_and_SytemDuring a reading of the cuts under consideration — which include eliminating more than a dozen routes, ending Saturday bus service by 6 p.m. and all bus service on Sundays by Sept. 26 — audience members heckled the Detroit Department of Transportation staff.

The proposed cuts are part of the city’s efforts to trim a $300 million budget deficit. Some bus drivers are among more than 1,000 city workers expected to be laid off by Mayor Dave Bing.

Interim DDOT Director LaVette Williams said the department’s current budget crisis is the worst she’s seen in 29 years working with DDOT. The cuts would be based on ridership data, Williams said. Williams said 113 drivers would be laid off by Friday. “ As a result of that, we’re going to have to massage and change the schedule,” she said.

The public hearings for consumer input will be held at the following times and locations:

5901 Conner Avenue, Detroit
Monday, August 24, 2009
10 a.m.-12 Noon & 6 p.m.-8 p.m.

360 Michigan Avenue (at Cass), Detroit
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
10 a.m.-12 Noon & 6 p.m.-8 p.m.

7400 W. Vernor, Detroit
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
10 a.m.-12 Noon & 6 p.m.-8 p.m.

18100 Meyers, Detroit
Thursday, August 27, 209
10 a.m.-12 Noon & 6 p.m.-8 p.m.

Does this effect you? Sound off at

Watch for more on this story on today Local 4 News and!


Traffic4Cast! What to expect…

August 20, 2009

newsteamSo a lot is happening in the world of construction! The summer is coming to an end (which I can’t believe) and new projects are already getting planned for 2010. Also looming, weekend construction! there are closures ahead, 1st lets update you on whats happening now…

m-14A LOT and I mean a lot of Local 4 viewers (also friends and family) have been asking me about the construction on M-14. Only one lane has been open at Sheldon Rd. in both directions. 1st it was the eastbound side, then the westbound side, then both… it has been exhausting. ANYWAY — I just got word from MDOT that all lanes of M-14 will be opening TONIGHT, when the clock strikes midnight! Just like Cinderella!

cinderella midnight

So…since it’s Thursday, here is a sneak peak for whats ahead on the weekend construction front! We’ve got lane closures, full closures, ramp closures…it all starts tomorrow. Here is the OFFICIAL list released by MDOT just this morning.



 I will have updates all afternoon Friday on Local 4 News starting at Noon, 4pm, 5pm, 11pm & on Saturday’s morning show!




70px-M-53_svgLast but not least in Macomb County, a public hearing is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. today on plans to widen a stretch of Van Dyke Avenue in in Shelby Township. Road Commission of Macomb County staff is to attend the hearing at the boardroom of the Shelby Township municipal offices, 52700 Van Dyke.

We’ve seen a lot of lengthy construction M-53 for months now. Anywhere from 18 Mile to 27 Mile. And the road commissions big plans continue! They are going to rebuild and widen Van Dyke between 23 Mile and 26 Mile roads to 5 lanes from 2! Construction would occur 2010-13, once the commission has purchased land for the project.

The commission said maps, renderings and other information are to be available. The environmental impact of the project is to be discussed at the meeting.


A “HAWK” watching over you!

August 19, 2009



This is completely NEW, completely INNOVATIVE, and the ONLY one in Michigan. It’s called the HAWK!



Watch tonight for my story on Local 4 News at 6pm


 The Road Commission for Oakland County today announced that next week it will begin a one-year test of High-intensity Activated crossWalK (HAWK) pedestrian crosswalk beacons at the pedestrian crossings at the Maple/Drake roundabout in West Bloomfield Township.

The HAWK is a new form of pedestrian crosswalk beacon that is lit only when it is activated by a pedestrian pushing the crosswalk button. It has a different configuration than traditional traffic signals, with two red lights next to each other above one yellow light.

Here is video of a HAWK beacon in Portland, Oregon.


The Maple/Drake roundabout test is one of the first test applications of the HAWK beacon at a roundabout in the country. The test is intended to determine whether or not the HAWK beacon is beneficial in helping pedestrians cross the approaches to a roundabout.

“Safety is the top priority of the Road Commission for Oakland County, and we are continually striving to find ways to enhance safety for both motorists and pedestrians,” explained RCOC Managing Director Brent Bair. “This test will help us learn whether the HAWK is a way to enhance pedestrian safety at roundabouts.


The Maple/Drake roundabout HAWK beacons are expected to be fully functional by the end of next week. At that time, Drake Road will also be re-opened at the Maple/Drake roundabout. It has been closed at both the north and south sides of the roundabout since early July so that the roundabout and adjacent crosswalks could be modified to accommodate the HAWK, and so the HAWK beacons could be installed.

HAWK #2RCOC has hired Western Michigan University and North Carolina State University to conduct a study of the HAWK beacons at the roundabout, and, in particular, their impact on blind pedestrians.

“We are firmly convinced that roundabouts in general are one of the greatest safety enhancing tools available to us,” Bair stated. “We are interested, though, in the possibility that devices such as the HAWK could even further enhance safety.”

Bair cited studies by both the Federal Highway Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that have documented substantial safety benefits from converting previously signalized intersections to roundabouts. For example, the FHWA documented a 90 percent reduction in traffic fatalities at intersections converted from traffic signals to roundabouts, while the IIHS documented a 37 percent reduction in total crashes at intersections converted from traffic signals to roundabouts, in addition to reduced fatalities and injuries.

“There is virtually nothing else that we, as an agency, can do that will result in a 90 percent reduction in fatalities,” Bair said. “We feel strongly that roundabouts are a huge safety enhancement for motorists and pedestrians in Oakland County. However, if there is any way to even further improve safety, we will always take a look.”


No License Plate is Safe!

August 4, 2009

newsteamSo I stumbled upon this story in my local newspaper, The Source. So this blog is dedicated to all of you Shelby Twper’s, Sterling Heighter’s, and just for anyone living in Macomb County…especially if you’re a criminal…JUST KIDDING! But, in all seriousness hiding from the law may not be so easy anymore traveling through Utica. We all know police can radar our speed instantly and now with new technology, infrared cameras are being installed on the city’s police vehicles that will allow 3,000 license plates to be scanned!


According to Police Chief Michael Reaves, the department applied for and received an Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that allows for funding to prevent and control crime. Reaves said Utica were granted $200,000 – which will be used to install an Automated License Plate Recognition system on squad cars. Reaves said no local tax dollars went into the project

“It’s a high-speed system that allows us to process license plates through different databases and find information quickly,” Reaves said. “It’s a phenomenal technology.”


The ALPR system involves installing three special infrared cameras on the exterior of police vehicles and a corresponding program on the computers inside the cars. Typically, they could only type in and get info on just 50-60 plates per shift, but that has all changed now. With the ALPR system, that number has risen to approximately 3,000 to 4,000 license plates. Once equipped, the system makes entering license plates from vehicles an instantaneous process instead of undergoing the usual lengthier manual method.

“It will make my officers as efficient as possible and as productive as possible with the database access,” Reaves said.


The cameras scan license plates automatically, simultaneously taking a picture of the vehicle in question, and collaborating with several local and federal law enforcement databases to search for criminal and questionable activity.

Instead of stopping and manually typing in a license plate, an officer can drive through a parking lot or down a road at a normal speed and the ALPR system will scan every license plate the officer drives past – instantly and without typing in anything.

“I think it will make a huge difference,” Detective Sgt. David Faber said. “It will be a great aid for officers to identify suspects.”

 Only one other community in the state uses the ALPRpolice vehicles within a few months. Reaves said he is looking into ALPR vendors and putting the program together in the department, and then the installation and officer training would follow.

MDOT is Back in Business!

July 21, 2009

newsteamLast weeks tanker explosion stalled a lot of new construction that is set to begin as early as next week. Well MDOT is back to their regular schedule and released 5 major NEW construction projects that stretch from Flatrock to Detroit! Below is the complete list with start and end dates, lane restriction info, even the cost! I will have more on these new projects today and throughout the week on Local 4 News!




Monday July 27th:

  • Contracting crews will be closing the two right lanes of westbound M-14 over the Rouge River.
  • This phase of the project is expected to last until Sunday, Aug. 9.
  • The entire project is expected to be completed in mid-September.

DETAILS: The repairs to M-14 over the Rouge River, located just east of Sheldon Road, are necessary based on a recent inspection. During the inspection, engineers discovered some safety concerns with structural components that need to be addressed. The lane closures will allow crews to conduct the necessary work on the structure’s abutment wall, which helps support the bridge beams.


1st week of August:

  • Resurfacing of northbound and southbound US-24 (Telegraph Road) in the city of Flat Rock between Vreeland Road and the south Wayne County line.
  • Northbound and southbound US-24 will be reduced to a single lane.
  • The work is limited to weekends only in an effort to minimize the impact to weekday traffic.
  • Lane restrictions may begin at 9 p.m. on Fridays and will end by 5 a.m. on Mondays.
  • All work is scheduled to be completed prior to Labor Day weekend


Monday July 27th:

  • Widening of M-59, between Crooks and Ryan roads.
  • The two-lane section will be widened to three lanes in each direction.
  • The median will be replaced by a barrier wall separating eastbound and westbound traffic.
  • A majority of the work to widen M-59 will take place during 2010.
  • Expected to be completed in November 2010

DETAILS: Crews will begin preliminary work to widen shoulders and construct freeway crossovers to accommodate a future traffic shift. Culvert work west of John R. Road also is expected to take place this fall.  In addition to the widening work, crews will make repairs to six bridges within the work zone limits. Bridge repairs will take place on Auburn, Rochester, John R., Dequindre and Ryan roads, and Livernois Avenue. During the project, two lanes will be maintained during peak travel periods on weekdays, with the possibility of one lane open on weeknights and all times on weekends. This $50 million investment is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).


Monday July 27th:

  • Extensive bridge repair on I-96 in Detroit
  • Ten bridges will get new driving surfaces between Davison and Livernois avenues.
  • Two lanes will remain open on eastbound and westbound I-96 during peak travel periods.
  • During the overnight hours on weekdays, and all times on weekends, up to three lanes may be closed.
  • Full closures are permitted when crews will be demolishing overpasses.

DETAILS: The overpasses receiving new decks include westbound Davison Avenue to eastbound I-96 (two bridges), Fullerton and Elmhurst roads, Grand River Avenue (two bridges), Livernois Avenue (two bridges) and Oakman Boulevard (two bridges). Bridge work will be staged to provide motorists with mobility. The work will continue through the winter months, with a completion date of November 2010. This $16 million investment is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).


Monday August 3rd:

  • Resurface the I-75 Business Loop (Square Lake Road) in Oakland County
  • Repair and resurface Square Lake Road between US-24 (Telegraph Road) and M-1 (Woodward Avenue)
  • Road crews will restrict Square Lake Road to two lanes in each direction until the project is completed in late November.

DETAILS: This is a $5 million investment. Included in this resurfacing project are median, fencing and signal upgrades. In order to accommodate the work,  During construction, there will be left turn restrictions at certain locations. Not all left turns will be prohibited. There will be no work near M-1 during the Woodward Dream Cruise on the weekend of August 15. This project is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).