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The Michigan Department of Transportation updated the public Tuesday on its Interstate 75 Rouge River Detroit-Downriver Connection project that will displace drivers until 2018.

“We want to let the community know what’s happening behind the barrels,” said Diane Cross, a spokeswoman for MDOT.

Crews in February launched the massive $220 million project to replace the concrete surface on the Rouge River bridge, fix road surfaces and replace or repair 13 other spans. The southbound lanes are closed for about eight miles, from Springwells in Detroit to Northline in Southgate. The first phase of the project was between Clark Avenue in Detroit and West Road in Woodhaven.

Work continues at the Rouge and Goddard bridges. In the next phase, crews are slated to replace concrete on a two-mile stretch of I-75 from Springwells to Clark as well as rehabilitate 11 bridges, MDOT representatives said Tuesday. Listings have the project at 37 percent finished but MDOT officials said that is an incomplete picture and only represents a portion of a section of the work currently being done.

Department officials expect the entire project to wrap by late 2018.

During the open house-style public meeting Tuesday at Ss. Andrew and Benedict Catholic Church, MDOT staff and project consultants shared billboards outlining the construction as well as pictures and time-lapse videos showing crews working around the clock on the bridges.

Since the effort is “exceptionally large” and involves many pieces over different time frames, the update was a way to address motorists’ concerns as well as explain more details, said Diane Cross, a spokeswoman for MDOT.

About 20 people attended Tuesday night’s session and had a chance to ask officials about upcoming work, including overhauling the I-75 northbound and southbound bridges over Eureka Road, Northline Road and Allen Road next year.

“As work progresses, things will be opening, closing, changing, shifting,” said Matt Hickman, traffic operations engineer with MDOT.

Hickman said crews were tackling some parts simultaneously and that the project was on schedule.

The goal, he said: “Getting as much as done as productively possible.”

MDOT officials also cautioned drivers to remain patient as thoroughfares such as Fort Street fill up with commuters detouring.

“There are going to be delays,” Cross said. “That’s just logical if you increase the volume” on alternate routes.

For information on the project, go to http://www.75rougeriver.com/

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