Falling concrete on I-696 prompts MDOT meeting

The Detroit News

A day after two drivers reported concrete chunks striking their vehicles on Interstate 696, Michigan Department of Transportation officials are slated to meet Wednesday to discuss how to address the freeway’s condition.

“We realize that is in rough condition,” spokeswoman Diane Cross said. “It’s going to be a real brainstorming session.”

On Tuesday, Michigan State Police responded to reports that falling concrete had struck motorists’ cars in two spots hours apart, first on the westbound side near Interstate 75 in Oakland County and the second in the eastbound lanes near the Schoenherr overpass in Macomb County, First Lt. Mike Shaw said.

No injuries were reported in either incident, Shaw said.

Oakland County road crews contracted to conduct I-696 repairs were unable to find a spot where the concrete might have crumbled and hit the first car, Cross said. “We don’t know where that came from.”

Macomb County crews, which early Tuesday had filled potholes on the route, also could not locate the source for the second reported incident, Cross said.

In the wake of those reports, MDOT issued an advisory late Tuesday reminding drivers that I-696, used by about 100,000 drivers daily, “is a 40-year-old freeway badly in need of repair. ... Projects are planned to begin in the spring to reconstruct it in Macomb County, and Oakland County will receive major concrete repairs.”

This month, the department announced that some 18 miles of I-696 in Oakland County was slated to undergo major repairs in 2018. Last fall, MDOT said it planned to spend months and $90 million overhauling a roughly 10-mile stretch in Macomb County this year.

“Until those projects begin, MDOT is continuously patching with road crews out constantly trying to keep the potholes filled,” the department said Tuesday. “Unfortunately, the freeze/thaw cycle is making a tough situation much worse as potholes can appear at any time and at any location.

Some drivers took to social media on Tuesday to voice their concerns about the road.

“Paranoid about driving on 696 with all these bridges dropping concrete onto the freeway,” one person posted on Twitter.

Another tweeted: “After hearing reports of flying concrete in the news tonight, I may never drive I 696 again.”

Wednesday’s meeting is “going to bring together many people to come up with a plan in addition to what we’ve been trying” to update the interstate, Cross said.