Use dynamic lane merge systems to improve operations in long term construction zones.

Michigan Department of Transportation's experience with a dynamic lane merge system (DLM)

October 2004
Detroit,Michigan,United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

The purpose of implementing the dynamic lane merge (DLM) system for this major construction project was to reduce aggressive driving at the merge point, maximize available capacity at the merge point just prior to dropping one lane out of three, reducing capacity losses due to increased headways at the work zone taper, and enhance traveler safety. The system accomplished the intended objectives and Michigan DOT (MDOT) was pleased with the results. Several lessons learned were noted:
  • Utilize a DLM system to help increase safety and reduce delay near work zones where lane closures are necessary.
  • Ensure that DLM trailer locations are wide enough to allow trailers to be moved in and out, and allow for safe placement off the roadway. This is also important for enforcement activities.
  • Consider frequency of changes to the work zone geometry and location before implementing a DLM system. It is better to use the DLM system at construction sites where the work zone geometry and location do not change frequently because such changes often require recalibrating the detectors. Long-term, large projects may have phases that are static, where the system can remain in place for a longer time.
  • Ensure that the system has line of sight between sensors for adequate communication. MDOT raised antennas on the trailers due to line of sight issues.
  • Ensure adequate access to sensor stations for maintenance purposes.
  • Identify stakeholders early in the planning stage and use a proactive approach to building public awareness of an ITS deployment. Successful techniques include meeting with stakeholders, holding press conferences, issuing news releases, and keeping local media up to date. MDOT used all of the above-mentioned techniques, and also met frequently with law enforcement early on to avoid miscommunication on overall system objectives and to keep them involved in the system planning and design.
  • Allow the driving community time to adapt to the DLM system. This will ensure that they will know how to comply with the regulatory signs in the DLM-controlled area. In addition, when changes in work zone roadway geometry are made, it is important to allow time for drivers to learn the new setup.
  • Ensure that the system has an adequate maintenance plan to avoid large amounts of system downtime.The implementing agency can meet maintenance needs solely through use of the vendor, or the agency can maintain the system with initial help from the vendor. Sensor power issues caused some small delays early on for MDOT.
  • Be aware that sensor stations may need to be reset manually when there are power interruptions.
MDOT was successful in deploying the dynamic lane merge system on I-94 as well as several other projects, to help smooth traffic flow and reduce aggressive driving just prior to the construction area. MDOT observed a decrease in aggressive maneuvers and average peak period travel time. These factors influenced both mobility and safety in a positive manner, and ultimately satisfied the goals of the deployment.

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Intelligent Transportation Systems in Work Zones: A Case Study - Dynamic Lane Merge System

Author: Scriba, Tracy, and Tim Luttrell

Correspondence with Jeff Grossklaus, Michigan DOT (November 2006 and January 2007)

Published By: Federal Highway Administration, U.S. DOT

Prepared by SAIC for the U.S. DOT

Source Date: October 2004

EDL Number: 14011

URL: https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/technologies/michigan/index.htm

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Carolina Burnier


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Lesson ID: 2009-00476