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Eastbound and westbound of Interstate 696 is expected to reopen by the first week of January, the Michigan Department of Transportation said Friday.

MDOT began the $90 million project in October 2017 with plans to overhaul a roughly 10-mile stretch of I-696 in Macomb County by the end of 2018. 

Road workers will begin making the switch on Monday with I-75 ramps to eastbound I-696 closing Wednesday and will go down to two lanes. After barrier walls are placed and new markings are added, MDOT anticipates I-696 will be open sometime on Jan. 7, spokeswoman Diane Cross said. 

On Tuesday through Thursday, MDOT will close the ramps from Mound Road to Dequindre to change markings and depending on weather, the project could take longer, Cross said. Drivers will have to get off at I-75 or before or they'll be stuck until the next exit at Groesbeck.

Ramps on I-75 to go on east I-696 will be closed also. 

"They'll need to get on at Woodward or sooner if they want to head east, which will be closed down two lanes as well," Cross said. 

The project impacted an estimated 150,000 vehicles daily, Cross said.

Cross said while they plan to reopen the freeway on Jan. 7, MDOT will return on a weekend in the spring to replace the temporary shoulder placed for four miles with a permanent one.

“… And joint work that we can’t do in the cold,” Cross said. “It’ll be a limited temporary lane closure likely done on a weekend.”

The construction work is happening later in the season because the projects were delayed in September when the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association instituted a work stoppage after multiple failed attempts to bargain a new contract with the Operating Engineers Local 324. A prior, five-year deal expired in June. 

The construction rift prompted the shutdown or partial halt of 89 Michigan Department of Transportation projects and 75 local projects.

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Cross said I-696 work needed to be completed before the Modernize I-75 work in Oakland County in 2019 because of the proximity of the projects.

The second phase of rebuilding I-75 wrapped up preliminary work in mid-December. MDOT widened the shoulders of I-75 for the traffic shift in 2019, putting all traffic on the southbound side of the freeway with two lanes open in each direction. 

MDOT's two-year, $224 million investment between Coolidge Highway and 13 Mile Road includes reconstructing pavement, replacing bridges and modernizing the freeway, which will begin in early spring 2019. 

Crews constructed median crossovers at Corporate Drive and 14 Mile, Big Beaver, and Rochester roads to provide northbound traffic access to those local roads for much of the time during the construction.

As for the work on I-75 downriver in Wayne County, Cross said lanes should be open by mid-January. 

srahal@detroitnews.com
Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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