They say there are two seasons in West Michigan… Winter and construction. And we’d say based on the all of the Road Closed signs you find driving in and around Grand Rapids, that’s a pretty accurate depiction. From the time the snow melts in Michigan until the time it snows again, crews set to work fixing and repairing our roads. While extremely helpful in the long run, it can be frustrating for your everyday commute or creating unexpected delays on your chance to get away out of town. Here are our tips to avoid the construction madness this summer!
Know Before You Go
Online Heads Up
It might sound oversimplified but the best way to avoid road construction is to know where it exists beforehand. Whether you are driving locally or taking a nice, long summer road trip, there are websites available to give you a heads up on upcoming road closures and delays from a local perspective as well as across the state. Checking local websites like Kent County Road Commission or Ottawa Country Road Commission can help you see today’s posted work schedule and even future road projects to avoid unpleasant surprises on your daily commute. Additionally, each state, including this one in Michigan, should offer their own version of the same, showcasing highway closures and other large projects so you can know before you get there.
There are also smartphone apps available to give you a heads up on real-time traffic reports and road closures. Some of the top free apps include Google Maps, Waze, Apple Maps, Intrix, Mapquest and TomTom GPS. These apps can offer up to date road reports, including accidents, delays and speed traps, by utilizing the hundreds of millions of users worldwide who have the app on their smartphone as well as having their locations turned on, which in turn sends anonymous bits of data to the app. Utilizing all of this data, with some apps allowing for even further input from users to manually give updates to the information, the apps are able to calculate the average speed and amount of traffic on area roads at any given time. These updates can offer you suggestions on what is the best route to take with an estimated time of arrival and other suggestions that can include avoiding toll roads and highways if that is preferred by the driver but also can notify you if road conditions change suddenly on your route due to a car accident, a break down or if there is a car pulled over on the side of the road causing a gawker slowdown. Which means that using these apps can save you the hassle of unexpected delays while traveling unfamiliar roads or even familiar routes that may be hampered by a sudden stoppage or closure. Instead, they can offer you alternative routes or simply letting you know that despite a delay, your path remains the quickest one. Although all of the aforementioned apps are free, they might not all be equal with the same functions and depending on your preferences, you may choose to use one over the others if ads or reliability are an issue for some.
Take An Alternative Route
There’s something to be said about taking the road less traveled, and the threat of construction congestion may behoove you to do just that in order to avoid unneeded stress and frustration. Despite having the upper hand of technology on our side when traveling the greater Grand Rapids roads this summer, there may come a point in time where you may simply choose to forego traveling within construction zones, even if they remain the quickest route. in doing so, as an added bonus, you may even find that taking the back way to a destination may not only offer a more peaceful and quiet commute but might help you find a yet to be discovered favorite unknown shop, bakery, restaurant or a fun, new town you and your family might want to stop to visit in the future.
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