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NB I-275 reopens weeks ahead of schedule

Candice Williams, and Holly Fournier

The news that northbound Interstate 275 could reopen by Labor Day, weeks ahead of schedule, was greeted with relief Monday. Better news Tuesday: It's reopening in segments now.

The Michigan Department of Transportation announced late Tuesday that the road will begin to reopen shortly to allow traffic to enter at Eight Mile; crews will then move to Seven Mile, and then reopen Six Mile entrance ramps. The freeway and Interstate 96/M-14, and Seven and Eight mile ramps will be open for the morning rush hour, MDOT said.

After Six Mile, crews will close the north I-275 ramps to I-96 east and M-14 west to reconfigure ramps, said Diane Cross, Michigan Department of Transportation spokeswoman.Those exits will be closed for part of overnight. Traffic can exit at Ann Arbor Road or Six Mile.

The M-5 east and west ramps through the interchange will remain closed until mid-September. Other work will close lanes and ramps but will be limited to off-peak times through fall, MDOT said.

Metro Detroiters were forced find alternate routes during repairs when northbound lanes closed July 5. On Monday, MDOT said it was aiming reopening for early September but vowed to push for sooner.

“Early September is Friday,” Cross had said Monday. “And we’re hoping to beat that.”

“It’s nice they could get the work done that quick,” said Antoinette Mullins, a Wixom resident who works in Novi . “It will make a lot of people happy to have another expressway open.”

The $71.5 million project began May 2 when southbound lanes were closed through July 1. Northbound was closed July 5 and was expected to remain closed through mid-September.

The project involves 13 miles of concrete pavement replacement, construction on entrance and exit ramps at each “mile” road, work on 16 bridges, and improvements to drainage and intelligent transportation systems.

Mullins, a server at Big Boy on Haggerty, said the restaurant has seen fewer customers since construction began.

“It has made business very difficult,” she said. “A lot of people avoid getting off and on over here.”

Paul Grauzer, kitchen manager of On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina in Novi, said he’s looking forward to the reopening of the northbound lanes. Sales have been down there, too, about 20 percent during construction, he said. That’s led to a cut in staff hours.

“We will be happy when it opens up,” he said. “I think it will be back to normal. ... We’ll wait and see how things go during the week. The weekends, we will staff up.”

Schoolcraft College student Brianna Deterage, 19, of Canton Township said the closure increased her 25-minute commute to 40 minutes.

“My mom told me this morning and I was like ‘Yes!’ ” she said. .“You have to find different ways every day to get here,” she said.

Fellow student Nicole Pettit, 20, said her commute doubled from the Westland and Wayne area “especially in the morning with everybody trying to get to work.”

Pettit said she expects a smoother ride on freeway after repairs are complete.

“I’m sure it’ll be nice to drive on after,” she said.

Jessica Lowes, also of Canton Township, said she’s cut down on the number of trips she takes to the Detroit Zoo with her two sons, ages 6 and 1. Her alternate route there included traveling I-96 to Telegraph.

“Then you have to stop at every traffic light ...,” she said. “I have not gone as often because of it. Now I’ll be able to go straight through (I-275) and down Interstate 696.”

Motorists will continue to see occasional lane closures, limited to off-peak times, MDOT said. Interchange ramps will be under construction until mid-September at I-275/I-96/I-696/M-5.

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2311