GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Starting Monday, drivers on I-96 in eastern Kent County will have to be prepared to zipper merge for a few months.
A $2.5 million construction project by the Michigan Department of Transportation is set to begin. It will fix an 8-mile stretch of both the east- and westbound lanes from Whitneyville Avenue east to the Kent-Ionia county line. Workers will make concrete pavement repairs and resurface the shoulders.
MDOT is implementing a zipper merge when traffic is heavy. The goal is to keep backups shorter and keep the flow of traffic moving.
“We don’t want anyone blocking lanes in any situation — if it’s a zipper or whatever work zone it is — because it creates road rage and adds another hazard to an already hazardous situation,” MDOT spokesman John Richard told News 8 Wednesday.
In a zipper merge, drivers should use both lanes until reaching a signed point, at which point they will take turns merging into a single lane.
“It’s better to use both lanes until you get to the merge point,” he said. “That way you don’t have to worry about who’s taking turns, you can just alternate and use the zipper method.”
MDOT is also looking to get the word out to drivers ahead of time to allow them extra time to be prepared for the zipper merge or to find alternate routes.
The closures and traffic shifts will be in effect for eastbound lanes Sunday evening through Friday morning and westbound lanes will be effected Monday morning through Friday morning. The project is expected to last until late November, though an exact finish date has yet to be determined.