Right lane of NB I-75 reopens; center, left lanes could be closed for weeks after tanker fire, MDOT says

Troy — The right lane of northbound I-75 reopened Wednesday afternoon after a fuel tanker fire near Big Beaver on Monday caused extensive damage, the Michigan Department of Transportation said.

The center and left lanes of northbound Interstate 75 could be closed for weeks for repairs after a fuel tanker fire near Big Beaver on Monday caused extensive damage, according to MDOT.

Those sections of the freeway could remain closed until Aug. 1, said Jeff Cranson, MDOT's director of communications.

The crash resulted in "significant damage to the freeway pavement and barrier wall," MDOT said.

"The damage by the heat from the fire has compromised the stability of the pavement which is why it has to be replaced," MDOT spokesman Robert Morosi said Tuesday.

The right lane of southbound I-75 reopened at Big Beaver on Tuesday. Repairs are needed for the center and left lanes and the median, which was struck by the tanker.  

All lanes of the freeway were initially closed following the fiery tanker crash. The 46-year-old driver escaped with minor injuries. No other injuries were reported.

The tanker was carrying 14,000 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel when it hit a northbound median wall near Big Beaver, police said.

The reopening of the right lane Tuesday evening, MDOT said, would "allow traffic to move on the freeway while crews rebuild the damaged center and left lanes, along with the barrier wall that separates both directions of traffic."

The entrance ramps to southbound I-75 will remain closed at Crooks and Big Beaver until repairs are complete. 

The entrance ramps to northbound I-75 will remain closed at 14 Mile and Rochester during repairs. 

Once left and center lanes are repaired in each direction, crews will begin rebuilding the right lanes in each direction, officials said.

The section of freeway damaged Monday was part of MDOT's I-75 Modernization Project in Oakland County, which included reconstructing in 2019 and 2020 more than 8.5 miles of freeway between north of 13 Mile to Coolidge Highway. 

Workers on July 13, 2021, walk by the area on northbound I-75 near Big Beaver Road, the location of a tanker-truck fire the day before in Troy.

The tanker truck struck the northbound center median near the Big Beaver overpass around 1:15 p.m. Monday. 

MDOT engineers began assessing the damage to the freeway Monday evening after the Troy Fire Department spent four hours putting out the fire. 

Northbound traffic can enter I-75 at 12 Mile, Big Beaver and Crooks/Corporate Drive.

Southbound traffic can enter at the freeway at Rochester, 14 Mile and 12 Mile. 

MDOT had no estimate of repair costs. 

Staff Writer Beth LeBlanc contributed.