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I-275 reconstruction underway in Farmington Hills

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published April 18, 2016

 This area between Eight Mile and 10 Mile will see some major changes.

This area between Eight Mile and 10 Mile will see some major changes.

Photo by Donna Agusti


FARMINGTON HILLS — Get ready to see some changes on Interstate 275, if you haven’t already.

A $75 million project is underway to fix 88 lane miles between Five Mile and the Interstate 96/Interstate 696/Michigan Highway 5 interchange in Wayne and Oakland counties, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

The project began this spring and is scheduled to be completed by mid-September. 

Additional work after the completion date includes planting trees and aesthetic updates, but no major lane closures.

MDOT spokeswoman Diane Cross said the reconstruction is a big investment in the surrounding communities, and despite the inconvenience, “it will be worth it.” 

Farmington Hills Mayor Ken Massey agreed.

“While the I-275 construction will undoubtedly cause some degree of frustration this year, the end result should yield a much improved roadway and entrance/exit ramps,” Massey said in a statement. “That will translate into a safer driving surface and better commuting for our region.”

Massey said the city has worked with MDOT and negotiated additional landscaping, “which should have the benefit of reduced noise intrusion for residents of our community.”

During road construction, concrete will be removed and replaced on each side of the road, while the current road base and sub-base will remain in place, according to MDOT; interchange ramps will also be fixed, along with 16 bridges.

Cross added that the freeway shoulders and their substructure — like the drainage areas — will not be replaced, which saves MDOT “a great deal of money.”

“People don’t drive on the shoulder, naturally — that is not in the same need that the freeway is in. If we waited much longer and the driving surface deteriorated any more, it would damage the below surface,” she said. “We’re going to save money on preventive maintenance. You don’t wait until your roof collapses in. You fix it when the shingles come off.”

Adam Penzenstadler, MDOT projects and contract engineer at the Taylor Transportation Service Center, added that while the shoulders are not being replaced, they are currently being worked on. Some will have minor repairs done to cracks and potholes.

“We are putting patches on the shoulders and are going to seal them off with a layer of asphalt to make them nice and smooth adjacent to the new lanes,” he said. 

Overall repairs include drainage improvements, guardrail replacement and landscaping work.

Stage one includes closing southbound I-275 throughout the entire project boundaries for about four months. 

Penzenstadler said that while the southbound lanes are closed, the northbound lanes will remain open. 

“We are only going to close one … direction at a time,” he said.

Stage two will start with closing northbound I-275 throughout the entire project boundaries until the fall, according to MDOT. 

Cross added that whenever any work is going to be done, MDOT looks at the bigger picture to see if there are other critical needs on the roads.

“Whenever we’re going to do any kind of work, what is everything we can do while we’re there?” Cross said.

The project began April 8, but a closure date is set for early May, including at Five Mile Road, all the interchanges and more.

Cross said MDOT will keep the public updated through re, social media and an app.

“The project is one thing, but because there will be closures, you will want to know what else is going on. You really want to use Twitter —  the Mi Drive app,” she said.

MDOT is on twitter at MDOT_MetroDet, and on Facebook, and is accessible through the Mi Drive app via Google Play and Android.

“We hope that people realize this is a big investment in the community,” Cross said.

Penzenstadler said taking out the concrete and leaving the base will make room for a better driving experience.

He added that when people drive on I-275, they may hear their tires make noise, which shows that the road’s joints are deteriorated.

He added that I-275 was last reconstructed in 1999.

Farmington Hills City Manager David Boyer said in an email that there is a “tremendous” amount of roadwork being done in and around the city of Farmington Hills this season. 

“State, county and local road agencies have coordinated these projects with regards to detours,” he said in the email. “However, with this amount of road construction, there will be delays and inconvenience to the motoring public. These short-term inconveniences will result in long-term improvements to our roads, which tens of thousands of motorists rely on daily.”

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