WB I-696 between I-75, I-94 closed for $90M overhaul

Charles E. Ramirez and Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News
Traffic on I-696 near Mound Round Friday afternoon.

For the next six months, it’s no-go time on westbound Interstate 696.

The Michigan Department of Transportation began shutting the westbound lanes of the heavily-used freeway between I-94 and I-75 at 9 p.m. Friday to start a $90 million overhaul. The eastbound side is slated to remain open.

MDOT announced the closure last week. The agency has also been tweeting out reminders about it every hour.

Officials announced the project in October.

An estimated 150,000 vehicles travel the stretch of I-696 daily.

MDOT began the project by closing the eastbound and westbound I-94 ramps, with all access ramps to I-696 set to be closed by 5 a.m. Saturday, officials said.

The work will impact Roseville, Warren and Center Line in Macomb County as well as Madison Heights in Oakland County.

In Macomb County, MDOT is investing $78 million to remove and replace all the concrete on both eastbound and westbound I-696 from I-94 to I-75. It will spend $12 million to perform major maintenance with pavement and joint repairs and drainage improvements in Oakland County.

Mike James, who owns Elite Tanning on the northeast corner of Ryan Road and East 11 Mile Road and lives near 12 mile in Hoover, said he’s concerned that the construction will disrupt the homes of rats who live below the freeway and send the rodents into his neighborhood.

“I heard that when they did the construction, there’s going to be a whole bunch of rats coming out and they are basically going to flock to the neighborhoods around here,” James said. “I’m just a mile off the freeway, so me and my wife were a little bit concerned about it.”

James, 35, said he’s heard Mayor James Fouts is trying to secure money to keep the rats at bay when construction starts and hopes he’s successful. 

“I heard that when they work on the freeway, they all live underground,” he said. “So they are all going to be basically moved out of their homes. I don’t know what to do about rats.”

This month, Fouts wrote in a Facebook post that the city would request that MDOT allocate money to cover the costs of traffic and rodent control. The mayor also said he asked that the City Council approve two full-time inspectors for rodent control and a part-time employee. 

“When the excavating commences, large populations of rodents will be stirred up and are likely to move north. This is where our inspectors must be ready and equipped with the necessary resources to eliminate rodents,” he wrote. “We hope to do additional steps to impede and stop rodent movement north.” 

A professional company has laid about 160 traps near the expressway so far and “they’re ready to do more if necessary,” Fouts said Friday. “I think we’re doing everything we possibly can.”

Mark Hicks contributed.