MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. (WJBK) - A major construction project is coming to Interstate 696 that will shut down the entire side of the freeway in Macomb County for much of 2018.
Come spring, the Michigan Department of Transportation will shut down the westbound lanes of I-696 from I-75 to I-94. The goal is to replace concrete in poor condition.
Needless to say, Macomb County motorists are livid.
"I work in Grand Rapids, so I take that way every day and if they shut it down, there's really no alternate route unless I drive 40 miles out of my way," says Erin Jurgelewicz.
"Is it worth it for a smoother freeway? Actually, that stretch of freeway is not really that bad," thinks Vincent Harris.
But MDOT says it was now -- or almost never.
The $90 million project has to be completed while funding is available and before MDOT widens I-75 near 10 mile. That's a part of the I-75 modernization project, which aims to fatten the freeway from 8 Mile to just south of M-59.
If this 696 project is put on hold, MDOT may not be able to work on the freeway until 2024.
"[The money] has to be used on that, on 696, is what they're saying? 'Cause I can think of a lot more, like a lot worse roads," says Dan Taylor.
Eastbound 696 will remain open during the construction project. Drivers are begrudgingly mapping their way around the looming mess on westbound 696, which isn't expected to clear up until late 2018.
About 150,000 drivers use I-696 through Macomb County every day. Certainly, the impact will be huge.
"The mile roads will be bumper to bumper, every mile road. And the cross street, and, as you can see the traffic here on Mound without that being closed is bumper to bumper every morning," says Robert Andrachick.
MDOT is hosting a special meeting on Tuesday, October 24 from 4-7 p.m. It will be at Warren City Hall. Drivers and businesses who will be impacted by this closure are encouraged to attend.