NB I-75 reopens from I-696 to Square Lake; crews return Tuesday

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

After closing northbound Interstate 75 in Oakland County for 10 miles due to dozens of reports of pothole-damaged cars, the state Transportation Department reopened the road late Monday and said crews Tuesday would be back to work on one lane.

The one-lane closure is scheduled Tuesday between Interstate 696 and Square Lake, said Diane Cross, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Transportation.

The northbound side of the highly traveled road, slated for an upgrade this spring, was closed for hours during rush hour after a rash of incidents involving potholes and damaged cars, police and MDOT said.

"The roadway is in bad shape and needs repairs," Cross said. "We’re just going to try to keep it together until we come back in the spring.”

Police said they handled at least two dozen reports of vehicles damaged by potholes before the northbound lanes were closed.

The Michigan Department of Transportation blamed the incidents on a warm-up Monday that followed the drop in temperatures over the weekend. Periods of freezing and thawing leaves roads vulnerable to formation of potholes, Cross said. 

“Today, the weather warmed up, the ice in the road melted and if it was underneath the roadway, that melting snow and ice now has a cavern area below,” Cross said. “Weight driving over it collapses (the road) into the hole.”

Adding to the travel woes: The highway’s southbound side was down to one lane on the southbound side and on-ramps along the same stretch, MDOT said. The lanes between Adams and 12 Mile reopened around 11 p.m. It's not clear if crews will return Tuesday, Cross said.

Elsewhere, AAA Michigan saw a 400 percent increase in requests for service across the state Monday compared to four weeks earlier, mostly due to the extreme weather, spokeswoman Nancy Cain said. "This is likeliest our busiest day so far this year."

Some Metro Detroit drivers witnessed the freeze-thaw effect and the potholes Monday.

"They're causing severe damage," one user tweeted. "I saw over a dozen flat tires and even some bent wheels."

MDOT is slated to upgrade I-75 north of 13 Mile to near Coolidge starting this spring as part of a widening and reconstruction project. Preliminary work, including widening and paving the shoulders for an eventual traffic shift, wrapped last month, according to the department.

Other work had already been done in the area in 2018 as part of efforts to overhaul I-696, but it's likely been years since the last major upgrade, Cross said.