US-23 commuters might one day see the Flex Route system expanded, although that will depend on when and if funding can be obtained.

Currently, the U.S. 23 Flex Route operates in a 9-mile corridor from M-14, just north of Ann Arbor, to the 9 Mile/M-36 interchange in Green Oak Township. The $92 million project allows drivers to use the shoulder as a lane of traffic during peak travel times, typically during the morning and evening commute.

Officials with the Michigan Department of Transportation say that since it went into effect in November 2017, it has reduced morning peak travel time by about 32 percent. It also has reduced the incidents of primary and secondary crashes by approximately 50 percent. With that success, there is now discussion of extending the flex route system an additional seven miles all the way to the I-96 interchange. There’s just one problem; the approximately $100 million to make that happen is not currently budgeted. Despite that, officials say their intention is to make the extension at some point in the future, hopefully within the next seven years. reports there is also discussion of improving the M-36 interchange, for an additional $30 million. Officials say despite that hefty price tag, the use of an improved shoulder as a part-time additional lane would still cost about 1/3 less than adding a permanent third lane. (JK)