(Photo: Laura Bonnell/WWJ)

I-75, Rouge Bridge Construction Update - Will Re-Open In November

Workers are on the job long hours

August 06, 2018 - 5:00 am

If your commute takes you on I-75 over the Rouge River, you're probably looking forward to the end of construction.

Work continues steadily on the northbound I-75 bridge, and it will wrap up until November, Bill Erben, the project manager for the Michigan Department of Transportation, told WWJ's Laura Bonnell.

 Erben says they've just finished up the northbound I-75 bridge, where 120 workers continue to build the stretch of road that equals 24 football fields. It's a 1.6 mile span, the largest bridge in the state as measured by concrete.

"The surface that you drive on is complete," he said. "However, there is still a lot that needs to be completed, including railings and drains."

Erbin says the stretch of road has a 50-year design life, and the pavement should have a 30 year life span with routine maintenance. 

"This bridge will be all new concrete. The materials are far superior to what we had there previously so we shouldn't have potholes for a good long time." 

Erben says part of the process is to make certain that the concrete cures it to put burlap over it.

"The concrete was placed last night, and then burlap soaked in water was placed on top," Erbin said. "Soaker hoses keep the burlap wet and plastic is placed over it to keep the moisture in for seven days until it cures and becomes strong." 

The men and women on the project are working a lot of overnight hours too. "They run the machinery at night, it's all lit up here while construction works do their thing with enormous machinery,"  Erben said.

He added it's another opportunity to remind drivers to slow down, especially after a new piece of cement on the southbound side of I-75 was already hit by a truck and a steel rail had to be placed across the median.

"You can feel the vibration as trucks and cars go by, and you can see the scarps on the wall where trucks have gone out of control," he said. "People just need to slow down because all of these workers want to go home at night to their families." 

Erben, a civil engineer, says he enjoys having two offices, one inside and one wherever his project takes him, in this case onto I-75.

"I think a lot of people like to get into civil engineering because they like to get outside and not confined to an office all day long.  So I have the best of both worlds, I can come out here whenever construction is going on and get involved."

Erben says the art of construction is something he's wanted to do since he was a kid.

"When I was a kid I played with Tonka trucks, I played with Legos. I used to make castles at the beach. I have enjoyed building ever since I was a kid and here I have an opportunity to feel the dream I had when I was a little boy." 

Erben says it is satisfying to drive on expressways after they finish a job. It's rewarding, a real team effort, he says.

So the next time they're cruising down a smooth freeway, he hopes drivers will appreciate all the work that went in to making it happen.​