MDOT still expects I-696 to fully reopen this year
The Michigan Department of Transportation still expects to reopen all of eastbound and westbound Interstate 696 and impacted ramps in Macomb County this year.
"If weather precludes all permanent work from being completed, temporary work will be done to safely open the roadway and any remaining work will be completed in the spring of 2019," the department said in a news release on Monday.
I-696 pavement repair work farther to the west in Oakland County, meanwhile, concluded this week, meaning no more related full closures of the freeway in that county, MDOT said.
There had been concerns the construction of one of Metro Detroit's busiest freeways might not be completed before winter starts after a three-week lockout by construction crews.
In September, 164 road projects, including I-696 work, were stalled across the state during a dispute between Operating Engineers 324 and the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, which locked out of the road engineers as part of a labor dispute.
Despite cold, rainy weather, the I-696 work continues in Macomb County, where the new concrete pavement is being placed into position. MDOT said it's "days away" from completing the first two lanes between Dequindre and I-94.
"Measures are in place to allow work to continue in colder temperatures, and we are prepared to protect the new pavement from the elements as winter approaches," MDOT said.
But MDOT officials say the state does not yet have an exact date when I-696 will fully reopen to motorists.
“MDOT isn’t not making an announcement as to when the project is completed or the freeway re-opening,” MDOT spokeswoman Diane Cross said in an email response. “In order for our projects to show on the website, Michigan.gov/drive, they have to have a date, and so we picked the date of 12/19/18 to make sure drivers could see the project was still happening.”
She continued: “It is very weather dependent, and we will be working until the weather no longer allows us to. We will get the freeway open, but how much of it is temporary versus permanent will depend on the weather and whether or not we have to come back in the spring. We did not make any announcement of the re-opening date."