ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Right now you’re probably wondering what a flex route is.

Simply put: A flex route is created when a highway shoulder is turned into a lane which can be used during periods of congested traffic. The goal is to reduce drive time while promoting safety.

According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, the state’s first flex route system is ready to be completed by the end of 2017 on US-23 north of Ann Arbor between M-14 and M-36. Drivers will see what MDOT calls a lane control system comprised of overhead signs, cameras, and electronic message boards. The system will notify drivers about when the shoulder lane can be accessed. It also will offer drivers suggested speed limits during congested traffic periods and indicators for when and in which direction to merge.

MDOT said this stretch of US-23 is known for three-hour pulses of heavy rush hour traffic. The transportation department expects the flex route will reduce the rush hour drive time through this stretch by about 20 minutes.