I-696 sign

(Photo: WWJ/Charlie Langton)

Start Date Announced For Massive I-696 Construction Project

Warren mayor expects "massive traffic jams," rats

April 12, 2018 - 11:38 am

WARREN (WWJ) - The big I-696 repaving project will commence on Monday, according to local officials.

The Michigan Department of Transportation has announced that preliminary prep work -- including the installing of signs and temporary traffic signals -- will begin on April 16 on the I-696 Service Drive.

The preparations come just ahead of a summer-long closure of westbound I-696 for concrete replacement. A closure date has still not been cemented, MDOT's Diane Cross said Thursday, but she expects to make that announcement by the end of the week.

Drivers should note that westbound I-696 will completely close -- that means all lanes -- from I-94, all the way to I-75, through November. 

In a Facebook post, Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said he expects the closure to create "massive traffic jams" on the 11 Mile Service Drive, 12 Mile Road, and possibly 13 Mile and 10 Mile Roads.

With that in mind, the mayor said is requesting that MDOT allocate money for the additional cost of traffic control, as well as for rodent control -- as he expects rats to be an issue. 

"I have specifically requested that council approve an additional two full-time inspectors for rodent control and a part-time employee as well. When the excavating commences large populations of rodents will be stirred up and are likely to move north," Fouts said. 

"This is where our inspectors must be ready and equipped with the necessary resources to eliminate rodents. We hope to do additional steps to impede and stop rodent movement north. I have also requested that the DPW line all of the manholes and catch basins with silt liners to help prevent rodents from moving through the sewers into our neighborhoods. We will do whatever is necessary to keep our city clean and safe."

Fouts added that he opposes MDOT's request for construction be allowed throughout the night, and he's hoping for a limit of before 10 p.m. Some cities, he said, are allowing for a much later time, but the mayor said he's worried about people who have to get up early for work. 

Fouts offers this advice to local residents:

1 - Plan your route ahead of time and allocate more time to get to work if you are traveling west on the expressway.
2 - To help with rodent control be extra careful not to leave out any pet food or pet waste. 
3 - Be patient and respectful with traffic and avoid road rage with traffic. 

Fouts' first point echos advice from MDOT officials, who said commuters to prepare immediately by planning and testing some alternate routes. 

"People really do need to be trying different mile roads, different routes," Cross told WWJ. "Try the 94 -- does it work for you? Maybe you wanna leave a little earlier, a little later. That's the kind of thing you need to figure out now, because once we close it you're gonna have will have maybe 50,000 or 70,000 others drivers trying to do what you're trying to do.

Stay tuned to WWJ Newsradio 950, and we'll let you know the exact closure time as soon as it's announced. 

Here are more details on the project from MDOT:

BACKGROUND: 

The I-696 freeway carries approximately 150,000 vehicles a day through Oakland and Macomb counties. The section in Oakland County has areas that need pavement repair and major maintenance. The section in Macomb County is in very poor condition and the concrete will be replaced.

This expedited $110 million project along the entire corridor is being performed with available funding this year before the nearby I-75 modernization project begins near I-696. If delayed, it may be until 2024 that the work could be performed, and only if funding would be available.

TRAFFIC IMPACT:

In Oakland County, the freeway will remain open weekdays from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. with work being performed during overnights and weekends, including 10 weekends with freeway closures.

In Macomb County, eastbound I-696 will remain open from I-75 to I-94 while the westbound lanes will be closed from I-94 to I-75 for the entire project. The closing of one direction of the freeway will provide a safer work zone for construction crews and drivers.

To provide a freeway-to-freeway detour, the suggested detour for the westbound I-696 closure is westbound I-94 to northbound I-75 to westbound I-696. Eastbound I-94 traffic will also be detoured via northbound I-75 to westbound I-696.

For the latest on road closures and construction, keep your radio tuned to WWJ Newsradio 950 (950 on the AM dial or 97.1 FM HD2) during traffic and weather, every10 minutes on the 8s, 24 hours-a-day. CLICK HERE to check our real-time traffic page.