Archive for August, 2015|Monthly archive page

Dick Scott’s Jeep Adventure Grand Opening

Attention Jeep Lovers, the Grand Opening of Dick Scott’s Jeep Adventure Off-Road Jeep Track is happening tomorrow, Saturday, August 22nd, from jeep-adventure12pm until 5pm. Bring your Trail-Rated Jeep out to Dick Scott Motor Mall for a Test Ride! Don’t have a Trail-Rated Jeep? No problem, Test Ride one of OURS!  Grand Grillin will be there cooking up free food and refreshments with a LIVE Radio feed throughout the afternoon hosted by David “Mad Dog” DeMarco of The Game 730am. We will also have a lot of great Give-A-Ways including Dick Scott Gift Cards, Jeep hats and t-shirts and much more…

Dick Scott’s Jeep Adventure test track is open to the public during our normal business hours. If there’s no one out at the track when you arrive, just head into the showroom and let us know you are ready to ride! Visit our website or click here to view our first-of-many GoPro videos of a test ride!


Inkster Road resurfacing to begin in September

A project to resurface a stretch of Inkster Road between Plymouth Road and Schoolcraft/I-96 is scheduled to begin in mid-September.

The construction, which is on the border of Redford and Livonia, is expected to be mostly completed by mid-November, according to Tiffani Jackson, public affairs officer for the Wayne County Department of Public Services.

The work will involve milling the existing surface, making repairs to the base and curbs and applying layers of hot mix asphalt, she said.

One lane of traffic in each direction will remain open during construction, she said.

MDOT will advertise this project and open bids in Lansing on Aug. 7, according to Jackson.

The low bid contractor will be determined at that time. “During the bidding time, it is improper for us to discuss project costs,” she said.

Cost sharing

There will be a cost sharing Intergovernmental Agreement with the city of Livonia, she said.

The work was originally scheduled to take place last year, but the Michigan Department of Transportation requested the county push it back one year because of the reconstruction of the I-96 freeway.

Meanwhile, projects have begun in Redford to resurface several local streets as part of a Wayne County program to return road money to townships.

Several projects are under way or completed, according to Redford Township Department of Public Services Director John Selmi:

•Hemingway from Plymouth Road to West Chicago was completed this week.

•Puritan from Fox to Inkster was also completed this week

•Lennane Street north of Six Mile will start on Monday.

Resurfacing work is also expected to begin on Lyndon, from Sarasota to Lenore, once a concrete contract is approved, according to Selmi.

More work

Other projects in Livonia this year include a construction project on Levan Road from Schoolcraft to Five Mile Road.

Work will replace some concrete slabs and provide curb capping. This will allow for the 3 ½-inch asphalt overlay for the entire segment.

Construction is expected to be completed by mid-September

Also this summer, M-14/I-96 from Newburgh Road in Livonia to Sheldon Road in Plymouth is being resurfaced by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Construction, which will cost about $5.4 million, began in early May and is expected to be completed next month.

Other city of Livonia projects this summer include work on Barkley, Bennett, Bonnydale, Deering, Cardwell, Edgewood, Flamingo, Richland, Melvin, Gardner, Arcola, Glendale, Hees, Milburn, Minton and Westfield. Maintenance work is also planned or underway on Grandon, Hartel, Hathaway, Pembroke and Russell, according to the city of Livonia website.

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Are We Merging Onto the Highway All Wrong?

In what seems like a past life now, about fifteen years ago, I owned a sort of loose copy of the iconic Lotus Seven, a fantastically unreliable mongrel with a Ford engine and a Toyota differential built in Africa by people who could lay down glass-smooth concours-quality paint without breaking a sweat but who couldn’t weld two beads without leaving a hole between them. My seating position in said vehicle put the top of my head below the beltline of a Camry or Accord. I was effectively invisible to anything taller than an MGB.

As a consequence, I learned in a hurry to make sure I always had an escape route on the freeway in case the driver of the vehicle next to me decided to make an unannounced change into what he or she no doubt saw as an empty spot. I also made it a habit to stay out of the merge lane, because the average American driver merges onto the freeway by looking dead straight ahead, accelerating to about ten miles per hour below the speed limit, and rolling down said merge lane until it ends, at which point he moves over without turning his head a millimeter in either direction.

My faux-Seven shared a driveway with a Land Rover Discovery. When I was behind the wheel of the Discovery and enjoying the unfettered self-righteousness of my late twenties I would often lurk right behind those uncaring mergers until they drifted in my direction. At that point I would blare the horn just to watch them experience a brief moment of full wakefulness behind the wheel, usually accompanied by a swerve towards the shoulder.

In being disinclined to get out of the way of merging traffic, I had the law on my side. Most states place the responsibility of merging solely on the traffic in the lane that is ending. Illinois is one of the few exceptions, and only with regards to freeway on-ramps, where the law of that state places a mutual responsibility on traffic in both lanes to adjust accordingly. You can look at it like this: Most states are like NASA and SCCA racing, where there are specific rules giving the right of way to one lane. But Illinois is like LeMons racing, where both lanes are expected to cooperate.

Then there’s Texas, which specifically allows merging traffic to drive on the shoulder after the lane, and to accelerate on that shoulder, if it’s necessary to secure a spot in traffic. My personal experience in Texas indicates that when this law is taken advantage of, it’s almost always taken advantage of by a lifted F-350 diesel with vertical exhaust pipes. And whatever rental car I’m taking to the racetrack at the time is almost always occupying the space they’d like to have.

The discrepancies in state law aside, I think that if you asked most people, and particularly most people who identify as “car guys,” they’d tell you that safely merging onto a freeway is the absolute and complete responsibility of the cars arriving from the on-ramp. Most of us have a particular loathing for drivers who aren’t paying attention, and the typical uncaring merger is the poster child for that sort of behavior. It’s frustrating to have to hit the brakes just because the idiot in the CUV coming onto the Interstate isn’t paying attention.

Yet the older I get, the more charitable I’m inclined to be towards those incompetent on-rampers. If you think about it for a moment, you’ll realize that merging onto a freeway is the most demanding task most drivers will ever face. They are accelerating up a hill into a situation that requires they look both ahead and behind them. Yeah, a competent operator can look well ahead, observe the position of every vehicle in the lane, and slot right in, but most people aren’t very good at looking ahead on the road. If you want an idea of how far most drivers look ahead on the road, wait until the next time you see a state trooper on the median and watch how late people are hitting their brakes. It’s rare to see them display more than forty or fifty feet of forward awareness.

So there you are, the untrained driver, trying to find a hole in traffic. You’re not good at quickly adjusting the position of your vehicle in any direction. When in doubt, you’ll do what you were told to do in Driver’s Ed: you’ll stomp on the brakes and reduce the speed of your merge even further into dangerous territory. If you try to brake and turn at the same time, you’re likely to activate your stability control, assuming you’re lucky enough to have it. It’s scary and miserable and it’s no wonder that I’ve seen plenty of cars just stopped dead at the end of on-ramps waiting for a thousand feet of clear space. That’s what happens when the driver simply can’t process the situation well enough to make it work any other way.

Compare that to what the average driver who is already in the right lane of the freeway is doing. He already has appropriate speed and therefore can more easily adjust that speed. He doesn’t need to change lanes at the same time. It’s enough to slow down a bit or, if possible, speed up a bit. That makes the hole for the merging driver and then they can both continue on their way.

Put aside your prejudices for a minute and just think of the brains of the merger and merge-ee as computers. Does it make sense to have one computer operating at redline while the other one is idle? Of course not. You want to allocate tasks so both computers are being used appropriately. That’s what happens when we ask drivers who are already on the freeway to assume more responsibility for safe merging.

As a “car guy,” as a trained driver, as maybe even an autocrosser or club racer, this idea doesn’t sit well with you, does it? You don’t have any trouble merging and you don’t see why you should have to adjust your behavior to help people who do. But that’s what being part of a society is all about: using some of your excess capacity to assist people who don’t have enough capacity themselves. If you do your best to make things easier for other drivers who are perhaps old, or sick, or operating imperfect vehicles, then perhaps someday, when you are in a similar jam, someone will look out for you. Take my advice, though: if you want drivers to look out for you, they have to be able to see you.

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Apple Is Getting Very Serious About The Whole Car Thing

A couple of years ago, Apple announced its intention to dominate dashboardsvia the CarPlay infotainment system. To most observers, CarPlay seemed like an interesting move but not much of a stretch for Apple. After all, plenty of drivers already used their iPhones for music and navigation, so why not bake those features directly into cars?

Back in February, however, rumors began circulating that Apple had bigger plans for the auto world — plans that involved building its own autonomous cars. Soon afterward, we heard reports of a secret research lab and claims that Apple was poaching experienced battery designers. The company’s goals were becoming clearer: Apple was gunning for next-gen manufacturers of electric, self-driving cars like Tesla.

The only thing in this narrative that’s remained a bit unclear has been how serious Apple is about its car project. Is it iPhone serious, or is it AppleTV serious?

Based on recent news, it’s iPhone serious.

That news involved Apple’s hiring of Doug Betts, formerly the head of global quality at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. As you can see from Betts’ resume, he’s spent nearly 30 years in the auto industry, and he’s always been focused on improving the efficiency of the manufacturing process and the quality of products.

What will Betts be doing at Apple? His profile simply says that he’s in “Operations”, which could mean anything. But it would be a little strange for Apple to hire such a dedicated auto industry guy with extensive production credentials and not use him to produce automobiles. If, for example, Apple wanted to tighten up production of smartphones or watches, surely there are people better than Betts for such jobs.

So, to recap, for those who had lingering doubts, Apple is getting very serious about producing cars.

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