The Michigan Department of Transportation will be doing construction on both eastbound and westbound Interstate 696 in the spring of 2018, officials announced recently.

The Michigan Department of Transportation will be doing construction on both eastbound and westbound Interstate 696 in the spring of 2018, officials announced recently.

File photo by Edward Osinski

Cities to feel impact of major MDOT project

Oakland County roadwork slated for spring

By: Kayla Dimick, Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published January 16, 2018

ROYAL OAK/CLAWSON — Commuters, prepare your detour maps now.

In a Jan. 4 press conference, the Michigan Department of Transportation announced a major construction project slated for Interstate 696 between Interstate 75 and Interstate 275.

Starting in mid-to-late April, MDOT will perform a $20 million project consisting of major repairs to I-696 throughout Oakland County, officials said. The project will be paid for by federal funds. 

The project includes major concrete repairs, joint repairs and flood mitigation efforts. 

Officials said work is scheduled to occur overnight with lane closures. The freeway will be completely closed overnight on the weekends. More details on the closures will be available once the project contract is finalized in the spring. 

According to Diane Cross, MDOT spokesperson, the project will wrap up in late fall 2018 — just in time for the 2019 major 10-year project on I-75. 

The I-75 project was originally scheduled to take place over a 20-year span, but that timeline was recently cut in half, Cross said. 

“It’s really because the I-75 mega-project has changed. That’s the schedule that has then become the one that is the domino effect that affects this,” Cross said at the press conference. “We either do 696 in 2018, or we have to wait maybe five years before we can get back in there. Because of that being moved up ahead of time, we had to move everything else ahead of time.”

By moving ahead the timeline of the project, officials said, the east-west corridor on the interstate will remain open to traffic during the 2019 I-75 construction at the I-696 interchange.

Alan Ostrowski, MDOT project manager, said the I-696 project needs to be done now. 

“Two big reasons: The first is condition. It’s time. It’s ready. It’s lived its life, particularly the stretch in Macomb County,” he said. “And the second reason would be a strategic reason to coordinate with the major work on I-75 that’s coming in 2019. We do not want two major corridors in the Detroit metro area — especially two that intersect each other — to be under construction at the same time.” 

Lane closures will be required for overnight work 9 p.m.-5 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, MDOT officials said. 

Weekend closures will occur between 9 p.m. Fridays and 5 a.m. Mondays. Detours will be posted during weekend closures.

“Our primary goal in this stretch in Oakland County is to not take any lane closures during the day and during the week, and that’s how we’re set up right now,” Ostrowski said. “Those lane closures and full closures are limited to nights and weekends.” 

Ostrowski said MDOT is hoping to get at least 30 years out of the new pavement.

Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier said the city authorized MDOT to work at night, which officials hope would alleviate some of the burden as far as peak traffic times.

“I-696 isn’t going to be shut down completely in the Royal Oak area. They’re going to be doing spot work is my understanding,” Fournier said. “I do know we will be working on Campbell (from 11 Mile to the I-696 service drive) at the same time. South Campbell is not in great shape.”

He said traffic in the area may become snarled for approximately two weeks, when both projects are scheduled to run concurrently.

“I think (commuters) will adjust relatively quickly out of the gate,” he said. “Royal Oakers know how to get around by taking some of the mile roads heading east and west, and also today, with the navigation systems and real-time navigation, it will be interesting to see what the impact will be.”

He advised patience and caution to all.

“Anytime there is road construction, there are tribulations, but the road needs to be done, and we’re trying to do what we can with MDOT to make it as painless as possible for our community,” he said.

 Clawson City Manager Mark Pollock said the city of Clawson would not be seriously impacted by the project.

“We have a few employees that will probably be impacted, but it’s not directly running through Clawson,” Pollock said.

For more information on the I-696 project, go to

Call Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik at (586) 218-5006.