WARREN, Mich. (WJBK) - The major construction project that began in June on 696 in Macomb County between I-94 and I-75 has come to a screeching halt after a construction lockout by contractors and union workers. And now, Warren Mayor Jim Fouts is asking Gov. Rick Snyder to declare a state of emergency in the city.
"Warren is ground zero for this construction mess," Fouts contends. He says it goes beyond the usual rush hour frustration in his city. He claims the slowdowns are affecting emergency response times, and lives are being put at risk.
"Our EMS, our police and fire are compromised because we can no longer get from point A to B because of the traffic situation," Fouts says.
The mayor says accidents in Warren over the past four months are up 27 percent compared to last year, a fact he included in a letter to Snyder asking for the state of emergency declaration.
"I think this could be his shining moment. He's, I think, a bipartisan person and I’m asking him as a bipartisan leader," Fouts says.
He's not asking for money, but rather, intervention. He's asking the governor to mediate between union and contractors to get them back to work before any further delays.
As of Tuesday night, the governor's office said it hasn't received the letter just yet, but states they are already trying to facilitate an end to this lockout. They go on to say an emergency request from mayor may be a little premature; the 696 project isn't slated for completion until November. The mayor says, though, given Michigan's unpredictable weather, this request couldn't wait.
"We just have a ticking time bomb because if this isn't solved soon, once we get to mid-November then it may be too late," he says.
There is no telling how long this work stoppage is expected to last but the mayor was told by his city engineer that if the work isn't done by mid-November, it will likely stay in its unfinished state until at least the spring.