MDOT seeks input on 5-year road plan

James David Dickson
The Detroit News
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Drivers on Interstate 96 will have another headache to deal with next year if the Michigan Department of Transportation moves ahead with its list of road projects.

Nearly 13 miles of the heavily traveled highway in Oakland County are scheduled to be restored and rehabilitated. The section that will be repaired is from 5 Mile to the I-96/I-696 interchange.

The work comes just two years after another portion of I-96 was totally closed for five months between Telegraph and Newburgh so it could be completely rebuilt. The project cost $148 million. No cost is listed in MDOT’s five-year plan, released this week, for next year’s I-96 project, or any other projects listed.

It’s one of the largest projects proposed in Metro Detroit. Commuters aren’t likely to run into major bottlenecks as much of the anticipated work is repairing bridges, resurfacing roads and planning work for future projects. All totaled, MDOT’s plan for work through 2020 would total $9.4 billion.

Paying for highway work accounts for more than two-thirds of the total, with bus, marine and rail taking up another 21 percent and aviation taking up less than 10 percent.

The transportation department isn’t expected to finalize the projects until early next year and is asking the public for input. Comments will be taken through Jan. 11 by emailing Geralyn A. Ayers at or calling MDOT at (517) 373-2227.

For years MDOT has discussed widening I-75 from 8 Mile to Pontiac. Work on the long-term project could start next year with reconstruction and adding lanes between South Boulevard and Coolidge. Work would continue on that stretch through 2018. The next section, from Wattles to Coolidge, would begin in 2020, according to the agency’s plan.

The full project north of 8 Mile could be completed by 2030, the report says.

Interstate 75, which runs north and south, and I-94, which runs east and west, are both considered “Michigan’s Main Street” and run the length and breadth of the state. Modernizing the two is a big part of MDOT’s agenda.

The I-94 modernization project involves reconstructing 6.7 miles of I-94 from east of the I-94/I-96 interchange to east of Conner Avenue in Detroit, MDOT said in its five-year plan.

“This section of I-94 through midtown Detroit needs to be reconstructed to improve safety, traffic flow, pavement and bridge condition, freight mobility, and local access to the freeway,” MDOT said.

The length of the I-94 construction — estimated to take 20 years — and its expense — estimated to cost about $3 billion — have been controversial, but little of that work is planned for 2016.

Several bridges over I-94 are to be fixed over the next five years, including those at Cass, Chene and Mount Elliott. Preliminary engineering and design, utility work and obtaining rights of way will be the priority next year with various bridges being rebuilt in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Work on the Gordie Howe International Bridge, planned to connect Detroit and Windsor south of downtown, is still in its infancy as far as construction is concerned. Next year, MDOT has scheduled work on right-of-way issues, preliminary engineering and design work for the plaza, interchange and bridge.

The $2.1 billion public-private span is scheduled to open in 2020. Canada is paying for Michigan’s $550 million share of the cost, which will be paid back using tolls.

Top 8 road projects in Metro Detroit in 2016

1. Restoration and rehabilitation, just under 13 miles of I-96, from north of 5 Mile to the I-696/I-96 interchange

2. Drain system clean and repair, pedestrian plazas over I-696 in Southfield and Oak Park

3. Deep overlay, I-696 over I-96 and I-275

4. Culvert replacement, M-85 (Fort) over Michigan Central Railroad

5. Bridge replacement, M-1 (Woodward) over I-94

6. Reconstruction and adding lanes, more than 3 miles of I-75, north of Coolidge to South Boulevard

7. Resurfacing, about 5 miles of M-24 from Harmon to Goldengate in Oakland County.

8. Deck replacement, I-96 Cherrylawn pedestrian structure in Wayne County.

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