Redford Township — This spring will be a challenge for Derek Stratelak of Grosse Pointe.
Road crews will be shaking up his daily commute when a seven-mile stretch of Interstate 96 will close between Redford Township and Livonia for eight months during road repaving and reconstruction of 37 bridges.
“Anytime you close a major freeway, nothing good is going to come from it,” said Stratelak, who works in Canton Township. “You just hope the work is completed as quickly as they can.”
The Michigan Department of Transportation vows to do just that, targeting October for reopening the freeway. Work on the $148 million project will continue through November, however, with the road open.
The reconstruction will affect about 140,000 drivers daily, MDOT said.
Stratelak was one of about 50 people at a meeting Thursday night in Redford Township about the closure.
. They talked with MDOT officials about concerns about daily traffic, residents voiced worries about congestion in their neighborhoods as a result of the freeway closure and business owners along the route sounded off about patrons’ access to their stores..
“Most just want to be heard, so we want to help everyone be aware so they can bear with it,” said MDOT spokeswoman Diane Cross.
An MDOT survey of 1,700 people found that 56 percent wanted to completely close the road for one year rather than partially close it for three years.
“We engaged the residents as much as we could,” said Bill Zipp, a project manager.
At least one lane of the service drive eastbound and westbound will be open during the reconstruction, but MDOT officials warned about congestion on those roads.
Livonia resident Andrew Allen and his son Evan Allen don’t take I-96 for their daily commutes, but worried their drives on Telegraph and Southfield would be affected..
“There is going to be a whole lot of congestion on local streets,” Andrew Allen said.
There were no debates, though, Thursday, about the need for restructuring and repairs.
The project includes repaving the expressway, which is more than 40 years old and replacement of incandescent bulbs with LED lights.
“Some of those bridges are in bad shape,” said Sheryl St. Jean of Livonia. “It needs to be done.”
The timetable for reconstruction of bridges depends on the contractor, MDOT said. Dan’s Excavating Inc. won the bid for the project, but MDOT officials still must review the company’s plan.