Making Blue Go On Summer Detour

An abundance of construction projects this summer has resulted in major traffic impacts around campus. A bus driver’s job is already very stressful – driving defensively to avoid accidents, focusing on customer service, staying on time and carrying full loads that can amount to 80+ backseat drivers.

Add in this summer’s extensive detours and it is a challenge for even the most seasoned drivers.

Collaboration and out-of-the-box thinking have been critical in navigating projects that include Fuller Street, Hoover Avenue, Greene and Hill Streets, and S. State Street.

Bus drivers are trained to “expect the unexpected,” a motto that has been put to the test during this unusually challenging construction season. The team that plans detours has to stay nimble and find creative solutions to prioritize safe travel.

The Hoover, Greene and Hill project affects the hub of U-M transit operations. Architecture, Engineering & Construction; Logistics, Transportation & Parking; Utilities; Community Relations; and the City of Ann Arbor worked together to develop bus detours for the challenging grid of streets between Central and Ross Athletic campuses, which include narrow and one-way streets.

The team’s unique solution has included temporary removal of on-street parking, restricting turning lanes, and removing rows of parking to enable buses to drive through the SC2 parking lot. Meanwhile, the team has needed to stay nimble, adjusting detours to prioritize safe travel and react to project phasing.

A 20-year veteran of transit operations, Mark Reddock, said, “When the detour began, we were using a route that was not conducive to bus traffic. The construction area was much narrower than anticipated. I shared this feedback with management and they went out to observe the route during a typical service day. Through this collaboration with management, we were able to construct a safer, more efficient route.”

When asked about the ongoing challenges, Mark said, “At the end of the day, it’s nothing we can’t handle. We just have to take our time and be patient. When we get people where they have to go, safely, then we have successfully done our job—making blue go.”