April 4, 2014 at 11:18 am

Your guide to Metro Detroit's $300M road construction season

Between state and county road projects this summer, Metro area motorists can expect to run into more than $300 million in construction projects this year.

For the Michigan Department of Transportation, the two biggest projects will be the $148 million reconstruction of a seven-mile stretch of Interstate 96 in Livonia and Redford, plus resumption of the $80 million rebuild of the I-94/69 intersection in Port Huron that began in 2013 and won’t finish up until 2015.

“We also have some heavy-duty maintenance work slated for portions of the Lodge Freeway (M-10) and resurfacing on Van Dyke in Warren and Center Line,” MDOT spokesman Rob Morosi said.

“Our plans are to do most of the work on the weekends and leave most lanes open during the work week.”

Other significant local projects are a roundabout at the intersections of 14 Mile, Orchard Lake Road and Northwestern Highway; repair and resurfacing of Greenfield in Detroit and Dearborn; and widening of key roads in northern Macomb County.

Vacationers heading Up North also will encounter orange barrels.

On April 12, MDOT will resume a major project sure to have an impact on traffic in the Metro area: The resumption of a two-year, $70 million project to reconstruct four miles of Interstate 75 at the Zilwaukee Bridge in Saginaw and Bay counties.

In 2013, MDOT crews rebuilt four miles of southbound I-75 and replaced bearing pads on the southbound lanes of the bridge. The same work will be done this year on the northbound lanes. The project is expected to end in April 2015.

Sundays through Tuesdays, three lanes will be open on south I-75 while north I-75 will be closed with traffic detoured to northbound I-675. Wednesdays through Saturdays, three north I-75 lanes will be shifted onto south I-75, which will be closed to southbound traffic with drivers detoured to south I-675.

Bill Drobek of Sterling Heights encountered the bridge traffic in 2013, when he was piloting his 40-foot motor home.

“The only place I really ran into backups was when I was returning home in the southbound lanes,” said Drobek, who is president of Chapter 66 of the Holiday Ramblers Recreational Vehicle Club.

“Construction means I might leave a little earlier for the return trip back home. But it’s not much of a problem if we get stuck in traffic because I have a bathroom on board.”

Closer to home, the road commissions in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties have a total of about $116 million in projects scheduled this summer.

The Road Commission for Oakland County will spend about $50 million this year, with $15 million earmarked for the two-year roundabout project set to begin in June.

“That intersection is very, very congested and has been for a long time,” road commission spokesman Craig Bryson said, adding the roundabout will improve traffic flow and safety.

But it’s going to be a pain with 14 Mile closed this year between Northwestern and Middle Belt, Bryson said. Orchard Lake and Northwestern will be down to one lane at times.

“It’s going to be a mess there for a while,” he said.

Dave Loeffler, owner of Loeffler’s Stone Center in the 32700 block of Northwestern in Farmington Hills, couldn’t agree more.

“Construction is going to be right in my backyard,” said Loeffler, who’s been in the same location for 52 years. “It takes 30 minutes now to get out of here during the evening rush hour, let alone during construction.”

Loeffler relies on semis to deliver to his business and wonders if they’re going to be allowed on the roundabout.

“And a lot of senior citizens hate roundabouts because they’re confusing. As for me, I guess I’m just going to have to start coming to work earlier.”

The Wayne County Department of Public Services Roads Division also has a $1.6 million repair plan for Greenfield as part of its $23 million construction budget.

Greenfield will be repaired and resurfaced from Ford to Warren roads in Detroit and Dearborn. In Detroit and Grosse Pointe, Mack will be repaired and resurfaced from Cadieux to Moross at a cost of $2.7 million.

It will pretty much be an average construction season for Wayne County, according to spokeswoman Cindy Dingell, but the overall problem is, as always, money.

“There’s just not enough funding to do what we need to do,” Dingell said.

For the average motorist, it may seem like barrels, barricades and detours will be everywhere, but it could be worse, according to Morosi.

“Due to the continued decline in gas tax revenues our major projects are fewer this year. Over the past 10 years our funding has decreased but the need has increased.

“There’s just not enough money to do what needs to be done.”

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