Michigan to develop corridor for connected and autonomous vehicles

Aug. 19, 2020
The state has tapped Cavnue to serve as the Master Developer of the project that will stretch from Detroit to Ann Arbor.

A new initiative announced last week by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer aims to bridge long-standing gaps in access to transit and transportation across southeast Michigan through the development of a corridor for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).  

The vision for the Detroit to Ann Arbor corridor is to create lanes that are purpose built to accelerate and enhance the full potential of CAVs and move people.

The corridor would support a mix of connected and autonomous vehicles, traditional transit vehicles, shared mobility and freight and personal vehicles. It would link key destinations and includes up to a dozen Opportunity Zones, where expanded mobility will connect individuals, small businesses and communities.

The state has selected Cavnue, a subsidiary of Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, as the corridor’s Master Developer to help deliver this vision. Cavnue plans to work with regional partners to plan, design and develop what it calls the world’s most sophisticated roadway. One that will improve the mobility experience and evolve to meet transportation goals. Cavnue plans to start the project with connected buses and shared mobility vehicles, such as vans and shuttles, before expanding to additional types of CAVs, such as freight and personal vehicles.

“As the anatomy of vehicles continues to shift toward autonomous driving and electrification, Michigan has an opportunity to not only drive this evolution in the production of vehicles but also in the very roads they drive on,” said Trevor Pawl, the state’s chief mobility officer. “This groundbreaking project reinforces Michigan’s current position as a global leader in mobility innovation, and it also keeps us moving forward on a path to more equitable, safe and environmentally conscious transportation in the state.”

Phase One of the project is expected to take 24 months and will include a feasibility analysis. This analysis will focus on technology testing, roadway design and exploring different financing models with an aim toward determining project viability from both a technology and business perspective. Subsequent construction and implementation would be part of future phases of the project to be determined following the initial 24-month period.

Initial project partners include Ford Motor Company, the University of Michigan with its CAV research center and Mcity Test Facility, Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), and facilities along the proposed corridor; and the American Center for Mobility (ACM), a leading testing facility.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.