MDOT: Interstate 275 project good for the long haul

James David Dickson
The Detroit News
A seven-mile stretch of Interstate 275 was shut down at midnight Monday from 5 Mile to I-96/696/M-5 interchange as part of an $75 million project.

Farmington Hills — The state transportation department is counting on motorists accepting a little inconvenience for long-term gain on Interstate 275.

And when the repairs are completed in the fall, they can take comfort in this: Because of timing and planning, the work will come in at about half the cost of another project that replaced portions of Interstate 96 in western Wayne in 2014.

Road crews began work Monday that requires total closure of a section of southbound I-275 from Five Mile to Interstate 96/696/M5. The road handles 90,000 commuters southbound daily.

After some confusion from motorists who either didn’t know or forgot about the shutdown that began Monday, it could take some time for them to find a detour, said Diane Cross, MDOT spokeswoman.

“People who tried going one way, they’ll try a different way tomorrow,” she said.

MDOT offers a detour for commuters on I-275 south: eastbound I-96 to eastbound I-696 to southbound M-10 to southbound M-39 to westbound I-96 to southbound I-275. That’s a 22-mile drive.

“Are a lot of people going to take that? Probably not,” Cross said.

But the hope is that the detour will divert trucks and oil tankers from local roads.

“A lot of local people will never use that detour. And trucks might not. We can’t control that,” Cross said. “But the idea is, where do you send that volume of traffic?”

MDOT is counting on commuters accepting the travel headaches for road work that invests in a long-term approach.

The I-275 project, which Cross said should be complete on both sides before October, will cost $75 million. Many of the same western Wayne County travelers had to deal with closure in 2014 of a portion of Interstate 96.

The I-275 project includes replacing concrete and fixing bridges and interchange ramps. Because the substructure under the road is sound, including the drainage system, the project costs half of the $150 million cost of the I-96 project.

By the time the work was done on I-96, Cross said, the road needed more than a partial fix.

Cross urged affected commuters to see the bigger picture: $225 million has been invested in two roadways to ensure their viability for the next 20 years.

“If you can get past the next six months, it’s really a great thing,” Cross said.

Staff Writer Candice Williams contributed.