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Crews are boosting safety measures around the Interstate 75 construction between Detroit and Southgate, state officials said this week.

Additional safeguards have been added to the I-75 work zones, effective Wednesday, officials said. The measures will remain in place until the project ends. It is scheduled to wrap up in November.

The new measures include paying for additional Michigan State Police troopers to patrol the stretch of freeway involved in the project. The Michigan Department of Transportation has a $240,000 contract with the state police to provide additional trooper presence on I-75 in the work zones.

"MDOT is paying for additional enforcement shifts over what MSP normally does through November," said Diane Cross, MDOT spokeswoman. 

Cross said the move is unusual.

"It’s been done, although rarely," she said. "But with the size of this project and all the work-zone crashes and the speeding and distracted drivers, we feel it’s vital to the safety of our workers to have extra protection to get the job done."

The extra trooper presence is being implemented because of the high number of fender-benders and crashes in the area.

There have been 76 crashes in I-75 Rouge River project work zones during the last five months, according to MDOT. The stretch of freeway carries about 100,000 vehicles a day.

Cross said the volume of crashes is high, but it can't be compared with the number of crashes in other MDOT construction projects because it's such a long work zone.

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The money is only spent when troopers accept overtime and/or are available to patrol the work zones, she added.

"If this is what we need to do to try and get drivers to do what they should already be doing — focusing on only driving, safe speeds, etc. — to keep workers safe, then we will do it," Cross said.

She also said MDOT won't know if the contract will add to the cost of the project until it is entirely completed and all of the budgets are balanced.

MDOT officials said they've stepped up safety measures to protect construction workers.

Among them:

  • Crews are installing additional concrete barriers to extend the protected work area;
  • Rumble strips are being placed on northbound I-75 approaching each work zone to get drivers to slow down;
  • The speed limit is being reduced from 60 mph to 50 mph through the construction zone; and
  • Signs are being installed to encourage truck drivers to use one lane only for single file travel.

MDOT launched the $220 million project to rebuild I-75 from Springwells in Detroit to Northline in Southgate in February 2017.

Under the project, crews are replacing the freeway's concrete surface for about eight miles, including the pavement on the bridge over the Rouge River, as well as 13 other spans.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez

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