For Metro Detroit drivers, there's lots of roadwork ahead

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that $700 million toward the $2 billion upgrade will come from MDOT’s budget over the next four years.

Metro Detroit motorists should brace themselves for lots of orange barrels, backups and detours this year as the Michigan Department of Transportation digs into an ambitious $2 billion initiative to upgrade some of the region’s most heavily-traveled roads.

While Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s often-quoted goal to “fix the damn roads” has been overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic and a tumultuous political environment, MDOT has been busy planning projects that will see construction begin in earnest this spring.

Motorist traveling along John R Road at Chestnut Avenue encounter a sea of orange barrels as infrastructure improvements prepare to begin in Hazel Park on Friday, August 21, 2020.

Last month, an M-3/Gratiot road project to cost $60 million in Macomb County was unveiled and on Feb. 3, a virtual public meeting on M-59 (Hall Road) reconstruction across Clinton, Macomb, Harrison and Chesterfield townships was held, detailing $63 million in planned road improvements from Romeo Plank Road to Interstate 94 over the next two years.

And on Feb. 22, a public meeting will be held to overview how Interstate 275 will be impacted by work on that north-south artery in the Wayne County communities of Ash, Canton, Huron and Van Buren townships; Livonia; Plymouth; and Romulus.

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“There will be several major projects taking one, two and three years to complete,” said MDOT spokeswoman Diane Cross. “And dozens of other smaller projects that will be a few months, weeks or weekends.”

Cross said the money for 15 major projects comes from Whitmer’s $1.3 billion “Rebuilding Michigan” program and $700 million from MDOT’s budget over the next four years.

The I-275 project will involve replacing and rebuilding 24 mile between Will Carleton Road and Six Mile in Wayne County in six phases over three years.

It will include 10 miles of concrete pavement repairs, 14 miles of concrete pavement reconstruction, asphalt resurfacing of four interchanges, rebuilding concrete pavement of parts or all of six interchanges, improvements to 65 bridges and a retaining wall.

Among other coming road work that’s expected to cause delays and detours.

  • Later this year, upgrading a section of freeway from Eight Mile to I-696, part of ongoing work to modernize I-75 in Oakland County
  • Extensive work along Gratiot in Macomb County from 11 Mile to 14 Mile over the next two years
  • Remodeling of Telegraph Road between Grand River and Eight Mile, including a divergent diamond intersection to improve traffic safety and reduce crashes.

Some innovative roadwork will include turning sections of freeway median on I-96 between Kent Lake Road and the I-275, I-696 and M-5 interchanges into a flexible driving lane during peak commuting hours.

“One lane will open up eastbound between 6 and 9 a.m. and westbound between 3 and 7 p.m.,” Cross said.

“The days of widening freeways are over,” Cross explained. “We will be utilizing existing footprints.”

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