The state says a much-anticipated freeway reconstruction project in suburban Detroit will close westbound lanes of Interstate 696 starting April 27.
The Michigan Department of Transportation on Friday announced the date for the shutdown between I-94 and I-75 as the roadway is rebuilt. Eastbound traffic will have access to I-696, but lanes will be shifted. Work is expected to wrap up in November.
MDOT is spending $90 million on the "Restore the Reuther" project in Macomb and Oakland counties. I-696 is used by tens of thousands of motorists daily.
The shutdown is to start at 9 p.m. April 27. Ahead of the project, road crews this year stepped up efforts to patch potholes following reports of vehicles being damaged by concrete that may have been loosed by fluctuating winter temperatures.
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All 28 miles of 696 will be under construction at some point, with the stretch in Macomb County getting the brunt of the work. MDOT announced Friday the big closure -- all of westbound 696 from I-94 to Dequindre Road -- will begin Friday, April 27 at 9 p.m.
In mid-summer, likely July, the eastbound traffic will shift onto the completed westbound side so the eastbound side can get worked on. Traffic will still be eastbound only.
The stretch in Oakland County, from Dequindre to I-275 needs work, too, but isn't in as dire of a state.
The work on that stretch will be limited to nights and weekends. No lane closures will happen during normal business hours, and when they are doing work there will be at least one lane open at all times. Some weekends will have full closures; Ostrowski says this could be up to 10 weekends.
They'll be repairing pavement and joints, working on drainage structure and doing some flood mitigation work.
So, why the rush and why is this happening all at once?
Ostrowski says it has to do first and foremost with the condition of the roads. The pavement in Macomb County is a little over 40 years old right now. Secondly, they're timing this project off another big project coming up on I-75. If delayed, it may be 2024 before the 696 work could be done.
"I-75 has major projects coming in the years ahead of us. Some work on I-75 is supposed to start late this fall and really next year, and be going on for the next five years or so; we don't want to have two major freeways in the metro Detroit area under construction at the same time. So, we're trying to get out in front of that work and fix all of 696," he says. Once the big work is done on I-75, they'll revisit the 696 stretch in Oakland County to see if it's in need of the full repair like Macomb County is now.
Bottom line -- yes, we should all expect an uptick in traffic on the Mile Roads.
Remember, eastbound 696 will still be open, so the detour for westbound traffic is to continue down I-94 and take northbound I-75 back onto westbound 696 in Oakland County.
There's no cut and dry detour for the stretch in Oakland County, since different parts will be intermittently closed. Some alternate routes to consider are:
- Get off on Grand River Avenue at the 696-275 corridor, take Eight Mile to north Telegraph, back to 696
- Lodge Freeway to the Davison Freeway to northbound I-75, back to 696
- South on Telegraph Road to Grand River Avenue, back up to the 696-275 corridor
- South on I-75 to Eight Mile Road to Telegraph, back up to 696