Two new Michigan laws authorize high-occupancy vehicle lanes along a stretch of Interstate 75 in Oakland County.
The state currently does not have high-occupancy vehicle lanes, or carpool lanes. Instead, it uses flex routes that are open during peak times in certain locations.
On Monday, Oct. 10, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law legislation – HB4352 and HB4353 – giving the Michigan Department of Transportation authority to designate new highway lanes along I-75 in the city of Troy as carpool lanes. Authorization applies only to lanes that are newly constructed using federal funds.
The focus of the new law is the federally funded I-75 modernization project.
As part of the modernization project, MDOT planned a northbound HOV lane and a southbound HOV lane extending for a stretch north of 12 Mile Road to South Boulevard. The agency, however, did not have authority to close a lane to any class of vehicle.
MDOT said construction of high-occupancy vehicle lanes is complete, and they can open following the governor’s authorization of their use.
“These bills represent a major step forward for mobility in Michigan and efforts to decrease emissions by encouraging people to share rides,” MDOT Director Bradley Wieferich said in prepared remarks.
Affected lanes will be restricted during rush hour, from 6 to 9 a.m. and from 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays. Exceptions will be made for emergency vehicles, law enforcement vehicles and motorcycles.
During all other times, lanes will be available for all vehicles.
Meeting federal requirement
Rep. Sharon MacDonell, D-Troy, said the new laws will make highway driving smoother and more efficient.
She added that the HOV authorization will help reduce pollution and help limit excess noise by encouraging Michiganders to carpool, thereby reducing the number of vehicles on highways at a time.
MacDonell also pointed out that HB4353 satisfies the conditions of a federal grant given to MDOT for the I-75 modernization project to include HOV lanes.
She said without the new law, the state DOT may have been required to reimburse the federal government $40 million.
In preparation for opening the lanes, MDOT said crews will be implementing daily lane closures on northbound and southbound I-75 to place required pavement markings and signs.
Lane closures will be done in segments and are expected to occur during daylight hours starting at 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 16.
The 14-mile HOV lanes are expected to open by the end of October. LL