I-375 to close after fire; tanker truck driver cited
Detroit — State transportation officials said Tuesday they hope to reopen portions of the Interstate 75 northbound ramp at Interstate 375 damaged by a tanker fire late this week.
"Our plan right now is to have the 75 ramp reopen late Friday in time for the Grand Prix," MDOT spokeswoman Diane Cross said of the annual race on Belle Isle. "We are bringing in concrete barrier walls to temporarily handle the damage that was done to the barrier walls. We will come back and replace those later this summer."
On Tuesday, officials said they signed a contract to resurface portions of the I-75 ramp damaged by a tanker fire Sunday morning.
Matt Chynoweth, deputy metro region engineer for MDOT, said the fire burned the bridge deck and damaged the concrete, which is 8-9 inches thick, as well as the barriers on the outside of the ramp, also known as Stroh's Curve. At least 4,500 feet of bridge deck was damaged, he said.
"None of the elements below the bridge deck were damaged — the beams or the supporting piers or anything like that," Chynoweth said. "It was an instance of the tanker burned on top of the bridge deck and damaged the concrete. We do have issues with the bridge deck, which is a safety issue."
A 36-year-old truck driver from Detroit was cited for careless driving in Sunday's crash.
The Michigan State Police Department's Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division will conduct a compliance review of the male driver's employer, police said Tuesday. Careless driving is a civil infraction in Michigan.
The tanker was carrying 9,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline from Dearborn-based Nour Light Petroleum Transport when it overturned, sending huge plumes of smoke into the air. Nour Light has been hit with 11 violations in two years by the Washington, D.C.-based Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which tracks safety issues.
The closure adds to traffic woes along the major freeway. MDOT has closed one lane in each direction along I-75 at the I-94 interchange as crews fix a crumbling concrete column there.
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MDOT recommends other routes heading out of Detroit:
■I-96 west to I-94 east to M-10 north to M-8 to I-75 north
■I-94 west can connect to I-75 north; note I-94 east ramp is closed to I-75 north
■I-75 north at Mack Avenue
■U.S. 12 (Michigan Avenue) for east and west
■M-3 (Gratiot Ave.) for northeast