3M and Michigan DOT building USA’s first ‘Connected Work Zone’ on I-75

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3M and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) are partnering to use vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technologies to create the USA’s first ‘connected work zone’ along more than three miles of I-75.

Using leading roadway safety systems from 3M, the current I-75 work zone in Oakland County will be transformed over the course of four months to improve safety for drivers and to test advanced V2I technologies that could be used by connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) in the future.

The I-75 Modernization project will position Michigan to be among the first states to test connected vehicle infrastructure at this level of scale. As vehicles become increasingly automated and connected, existing road infrastructure must be updated to ensure the safety and reliability of this emerging technology. Signs, pavement markings, temporary traffic controls, and vehicle identification systems need to be designed and implemented to pave the way for the data-driven environment of the cars and roadways of tomorrow.

3M will provide MDOT with advanced all-weather lane markings, retroreflective signs with smart sign technology, and DSRC (dedicated short-range communication) devices for V2I communications. The updated, modern materials will allow for redundancy and greater machine vision, as well as improved driver safety on the roadways. 3M will also provide work crews ANSI-compliant apparel with the company’s Scotchlite Reflective Material, to ensure proper worker safety throughout the project.

MDOT will resume construction on the I-75 Modernization project in May. In addition to rebuilding the interstate, MDOT will realign interchanges and upgrade geometrics to improve safety and travel time reliability. Installation of permanent RSUs (road-side units) are included to further support CAVs. Overall, the I-75 Modernization project will rebuild more than 17 miles (27km) of interstate that will support advanced technology and vehicles of the future.

“For almost 80 years, we have been leading the development of cutting-edge traffic and roadway worker safety advancements,” said John Riccardi, VP and general manager of 3M’s Traffic Safety and Security Division. “The future of mobility requires an open ecosystem in which industry leaders connect and collaborate to create new technologies that improve our roadways. The state of Michigan is leading the charge when it comes to the future of mobility and we are looking forward to seeing where this partnership goes.”

MDOT’s director, Kirk T Steudle, added, “We are excited to partner with 3M on this project to make the concept of connected roadways and autonomous driving a reality.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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