I-696 construction: Eastbound traffic shifts to new westbound pavement

Westbound traffic still won't travel on I-696 until project is complete

The westbound side of I-696 between I-94 and I-75 will be ready for traffic this week, but it won't be westbound traffic. 

Eastbound traffic will travel on the westbound side of the interstate. The shift was supposed to start Monday night but has been delayed a day due to weather. The actual shift took place Thursday night.

The weekend closure will be from 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) shut down the westbound lanes this past spring for a $90 million construction project. The eastbound lanes have remained open, but now those lanes will close for construction.

Eastbound traffic will now travel on the newly-paved westbound side of the interstate. All entrance ramps will be closed in Macomb County. The only exits that will be open are Dequindre Road, Mound Road and Groesbeck Highway. 

  • The video above shows construction progress as of Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. 

Traffic still won't be able to head westbound on this stretch of I-696 until at least November, when MDOT plans to have the project completed. 

MDOT said the traffic shift will happen beginning at 9 p.m. Monday. 

Here are traffic impact details from MDOT: 

  • There will be two traffic shifts with ramp closures -- from 8 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m .Friday and from 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m .Monday.
  • On Tuesday night, eastbound I-696 will have only the left lane open and the three right lanes closed from Coolidge Highway to Dequindre Road. All the entrance and exit ramps from Coolidge Highway to Dequindre Road will be closed intermittently while crews work in the right lanes where traffic would normally enter and exit the freeway. The northbound and southbound I-75 ramps to eastbound I-696 will also be closed, along with the exit ramp to Couzens Avenue. Once the final traffic shift is completed, the right lane of eastbound I-696 at I-75 and the Couzens Avenue ramp will remain closed through the end of the project. 
  • The second traffic shift with ramp closures starts at 9 p.m. Tuesday, lasting until 5 a.m. Thursday.
  • On Wednesday night, eastbound I-696 will have only one lane open from Coolidge Highway to I-94 as traffic begins to be shifted onto the new westbound concrete just after I-75. During this overnight work, the northbound and southbound I-75 ramps will be closed and will reopen by morning rush hour. The exit ramps to Dequindre Road, Mound Road, and M-97 (Groesbeck Highway) will be closed intermittently and reopen by 5 a.m. All other eastbound I-696 entrance and exit ramps from I-75 to I-94 will begin closing during the overnight and will remain closed through project completion in November.
  • Once the shift is completed, all eastbound I-696 entrance ramps in Macomb County will be closed. Eastbound I-696 exit ramps will be limited to Dequindre Road, Mound Road, M-97 (Groesbeck Highway), and I-94. 
  • Beginning Thursday, Aug. 23, three lanes of eastbound I-696 traffic will be shifted onto the westbound I-696 lanes with temporary crossover exits to Dequindre Road, Mound Road, Groesbeck Highway, and I-94. All other exit ramps will be closed and all entrance ramps will be closed in Macomb County.
  • The traffic signals on the eastbound I-696 service drive are being retimed to accommodate the additional traffic volumes expected. 
  • In Oakland County, the freeway will remain open weekdays from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. There will not be any work or closures performed this weekend but overnight work may resume Sunday evening in preparation for the weekend closure of eastbound I-696 from US-24 to I-75 the weekend of Aug. 24-27.

I-696 construction details

MDOT first announced the massive interstate construction project in October, saying due to poor condition the freeway must undergo concrete replacement on this stretch in Macomb County. Some bridges over I-696 will undergo maintenance work, too. 

MDOT said this project, nicknamed "Restore the Reuther," must be completed while funding remains available and before the nearby I-75 modernization project gets underway. The transportation department fears a delay in action would push the start of this I-696 construction project to 2024. 

According to MDOT, I-696 carries about 150,000 vehicles a day through Macomb County. 

In Macomb County, $78 million will be invested to remove and replace all the concrete on both eastbound and westbound I-696 from I-94 to I-75. Only westbound I-696 will be closed (from I-94 to I-75), with traffic detoured throughout the entire project. Eastbound I-696 traffic will always have access, although traffic will be shifted throughout the project. The closing of one direction of the freeway will provide a safer work zone for construction crews and drivers.
In Oakland County, $12 million will be invested to perform major maintenance, with pavement and joint repairs and drainage improvements.

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