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Road trip a chance to compare Michigan highways

Tom Greenwood
The Detroit News

Well, it’s my first week back to work after being off for two weeks of vacation, much of which I spent visiting family in Maine.

As usual, I drove there in my trusty 2003 Ford Explorer SUV (227,000 keep-on-truckin’ miles). In the past, I’ve taken the “short cut” through Canada via the 401 and 403 there and back.

But this time, I decided to shake it up a bit and drove the entire route through the U.S. — through Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and then up into Maine and back.

A few of my driving observations:

■ Yes, all their roads seemed to be in better shape than ours; however, I should point out that I drove on toll roads for most of the trip.

■ The round trip total for the Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine throughways came to about $83, all of which went toward maintaining those roadways.

And that was just one car.

■ Speeds on the throughways varied from 55 mph (for short stretches) to 70 mph, but that didn’t seem to count for trucks. I had mammoth machines routinely traveling in the fast lane, many whipping by at 80 mph, which was pretty unsettling.

■ The lowest price I paid for gasoline was on the Ohio turnpike at $2.06 a gallon. But inside the station, a bottle of Pepsi was $2.14. What is wrong with this picture?

■ Sorry, folks, but based on my recent treks, I would say we have little to complain about when it comes to road construction on our freeways. I ran into major headaches on New York and Massachusetts freeways that resulted in backups that went on (cue the Guess Who) for miles and miles and miles ...

■ On one of the interstates (not a toll road), crews narrowed us from four lanes to one on the approach to a narrow bridge under repairs.

At 1/2 mile intervals prior to the merge, crews had trucks with electronic message signs posted along the road that flashed big yellow arrows.

The drivers of both trucks were dead asleep as thousands of cars crept past them at about 4 mph. One beautiful dreamer was hanging half way out of the driver’s side window while the other was draped over the steering wheel.

■ I found it interesting that while New York and Massachusetts do not have reciprocity laws for CPL holders, they have no problem selling billy clubs and half-sized baseball bats at service stations along the roadways.

I guess they’re for clubbing any mosquitoes that get inside the car.

■ I did a lot of driving in Maine and never once saw a panhandler at an intersection.

■ While traveling in the East Coast, I found the drivers in Maine to be the most placid while those in Massachusetts were the most aggressive ... even more so than Michigan drivers.

■ Within five seconds of re-entering Michigan from Ohio, my designated tailgater was four feet off my rear bumper, banging on his steering wheel and showing me the most direct route to the Upper Peninsula.

It was good to be home.

I-75: In Auburn Hills, two lanes NB will be closed from University Drive to M-59 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. today.

I-75: In Auburn Hills, the Chrysler Drive ramp to NB I-75 and University will be closed from 5 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday. The EB University Drive ramp to SB I-75 will be closed for the same time period on Sunday.

I-75: In Springfield Township, two lanes NB will be closed from Davisburg to Saginaw roads from 11 tonight until 5 a.m. Monday.

I-75: In Detroit, NB and SB will have one lane open from the Lodge Freeway (M-10) to I-375 from 1 a.m. Saturday until 6 p.m. Sunday.

I-275/I-96/M-14: In Livonia, the SB ramp to WB M-14 will be closed from 9 tonight until 5 a.m. Monday for repairs. At the same time, the EB M-14 Ramp to NB I-275 will be closed for the same time period.

I-696: In Royal Oak, the EB ramp to NB I-75 ramp will be closed from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday for repairs.

M-10 (Lodge Freeway): In Detroit, SB will have two lanes closed from I-94 to I-75 from 9 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday. No work will be done from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Mack: In Detroit, WB has two lanes closed at Woodward from 9 a.m. Monday until Nov. 11.

Forest: In Detroit, EB is closed at Woodward until Nov. 16 except for local access.

W. Grand Boulevard: In Detroit, two lanes are closed at Woodward until Nov. 16 for utility work.