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MDOT details Wayne County I-75 project with travelers

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Driving back and forth to work in downtown Detroit, Virginia Lickliter is familiar with the issues of commuting on Interstate 75.

That’s why the Trenton resident attended a public meeting Wednesday night to learn more about the Michigan Department of Transportation project on the major highway slated to start Downriver in early 2017 through 2018.

“My whole commute is affected,” she said, glancing at a white board outlining aspects of the effort.

MDOT officials were on hand at the meeting in Detroit’s St. Andrew and Benedict Church to field questions from her and other commuters about the upcoming project, which impacts communities such as Melvindale, Lincoln Park, Allen Park, Southgate, Taylor and Brownstown Township.

Slated for replacement are theconcrete between Clark Avenue and Springwells; the Rouge River bridge deck; the obsolete span over I-75 over Goddard and swapping it with two smaller ones, MDOT said.

Construction is estimated to cost at least $137 million, according to a department overview.

Coordinating an “open house-style” session allows motorists and others who regularly use the route to learn about detours as well as specifics, and helps them understand the scope of the project, said Diane Cross, a spokeswoman for MDOT.

“We’re touching a lot of different communities,” she said.

Throughout the event Wednesday, about 45 people walked between boards displaying project locations, work descriptions and detours.

Some attendees asked MDOT staffers and project consultants about alternate routes as well as congestion. “We recognize that it takes … weeks for people to determine their best route,” said Mike Budai, traffic operations engineer with the department.

As part of the work, southbound I-75 is expected to be detoured for two years, but northbound I-75 won’t be, the department said.

Another major aspect: Replacing the deck on the Rouge River bridge. Constructed in 1967, the 1.63-mile-long span is considered the largest in Michigan and carries an estimated 37 million vehicles each year, MDOT said.

Since patching and repair are no longer feasible, the deck is “in dire need” of replacement, Budai said.

Tyrone Carter, who leads the Original United Citizens of Southwest Detroit, attended the event to find out about the impact on residents as well as how emergencies are addressed.

“It’s going to intimately impact the entire Downriver,” he said.

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