Anybody living south or heading south on I-75 will be spending significantly more time in metro Detroit over the next two years.
Southbound I-75 will be shut down starting February 4th between Springwells in Detroit and North Line in Southgate. During the closure, the Michigan Department of Transportation will be conducting work on several bridges on both sides of the interstate.
Northbound traffic will never be affected by a detour. In 2018, when MDOT shifts to work on the northbound lanes, northbound traffic coming in to Detroit will shift to the southbound lanes.
The $150 million project will close southbound I-75 for two years.
The eight mile section of the interstate will be the focus of the 75Rouge River Detroit-Downriver Connection project. But the detour is what will be causing the headaches.
Drivers from downtown Detroit will have to take 96 to the 275 interchange in Plymouth. Then they'll take 275 south to connect to 75.
That's a 51 mile detour:
Adam Penzenstadler of MDOT told FOX 2 last month that they considered using the northbound lanes for both dirctions but decided that the long detour is the best choice.
"We had looked at options of maintaining traffic in both directions, trying two directions on one side and moving everyone over," Penzenstadler said. "But after working with the community and hearing their concerns, we decided it's not the best option."
MDOT officials say Michigan's largest bridge needs new concrete. The cost of the entire project is about $150 million. While northbound lanes will not be affected, MDOT officials say they believe the decision to shut down the southbound lanes will minimize traffic.
There is some good news for local residents: a detour for local acces is available by taking the Fort Street exit. There will also be several ramps closed in the area for construction:
The first bridges to be fixed will be the Rouge River Bridge, the Fort Street Bridge, the Goddard Road Bridges, the West Road Bridge, and the Gibraltar Bridge.
Penzenstadler said the main focus is the Rouge River Bridge because when they do work, it causes major headaches for traffic.
"Every time we've done work on this bridge and you've taken it down to two lanes in each direction, traffic backed up for miles and miles in both directions," says Penzenstadler.
The Rouge River Bridge is the largest bridge in Michigan at 1.63 miles long. It's 49 years old and carries 37 million vehicles earch year. This project will not be a full replacement - which would cost $400 million - this will replace the bridge deck.
In 2018, MDOT will begin work on the Northline Road Bridges, Allen Roads, GTW Railroad Bridges, Eureka Road Bridges, and the Blakely Cook Bridges. In February 2018, northbound traffic will shift to the other side of the interstate so crews can do the work.
When discussing the project, another major concern is safety.
"There's just not enough room on that bridge to get emergency response," he says. "If there happened to be an accident on that bridge, how would you get to them?"
While the roughly eight-mile stretch may be a pest for many drivers heading Downriver, MDOT officials say this project will make their inconvenience as short as possible.
The project includes:
- Removing and replacing the concrete surface on the I-75 Rouge River Bridge, the bridge with the largest concrete surface area in Michigan.
- Removing and replacing the concrete surface on the two Dearborn Street ramp bridges adjacent to the Rouge River Bridge, as well as at the Fort Street bridge just north of the Rouge River Bridge.
- Removing and replacing the bridges carrying I-75 over Goddard Road and the drain north of Goddard Road.
- Overhauling 13 other bridges along I-75 through the Downriver communities.
- Adding intelligent transportation system (ITS) equipment, which includes electronic signs, cameras, and traffic information gathering equipment to help MDOT communicate to drivers about travel times, safety, and mobility issues.
- Pavement patching on northbound and southbound I-75 between the Rouge River and Goddard Road.
I-75 detour: Southbound I-75 will be closed from Springwells Street in Detroit to North Line Road in Southgate. Southbound I-75 traffic will be detoured, while northbound traffic will be maintained on northbound lanes in 2017 and on southbound lanes in 2018. The posted detour for commercial vehicles will include southbound I-75 to westbound I-96, then southbound I-275 to southbound I-75 in Monroe.