I-696 rebuild remains on schedule despite paving ‘mistake’

MDOT still plans to shift eastbound traffic to westbound lanes sometime in late July

By: Bria Brown | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 26, 2018

 Construction workers lay pavement on westbound Interstate 696 earlier this month as part of the Restore the Reuther construction project. The project is expected to be completed in November.

Construction workers lay pavement on westbound Interstate 696 earlier this month as part of the Restore the Reuther construction project. The project is expected to be completed in November.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Earlier this month, work proceeds on Interstate 696 from the view of the walking overpass just east of Gratiot Avenue, at the Costco in Roseville, looking east.

Earlier this month, work proceeds on Interstate 696 from the view of the walking overpass just east of Gratiot Avenue, at the Costco in Roseville, looking east.

Photo by Deb Jacques

ROSEVILLE — The Restore the Reuther $110 million construction project in Oakland and Macomb counties began April 27 and is making strides to shift motorists driving eastbound onto the new westbound Interstate 696 pavement sometime in late July.

That was the latest word from Michigan Department of Transportation spokesperson Diane Cross June 21, despite the discovery of a “mistake” that will reportedly require the removal and replacement of newly poured concrete in a two-lane, half-mile section near Gratiot Avenue.

Cross told C & G Newspapers that MDOT inspectors determined that problems with a paving machine had adversely affected the quality and potential longevity of the concrete in that area. She said the contractor was responsible for the mistake and that the company had agreed to fix it while absorbing any related costs.

The affected concrete was about a “day’s worth of paving,” Cross said. To meet the tight construction schedule that will require completion of the freeway in early November, she added that the contractor will pay an additional crew to remove and replace the bad section while the main crew continues paving work, moving west away from Gratiot.     

Westbound traffic will remain closed when eastbound traffic shifts to the new pavement. There will be ramp closures for eastbound traffic following the shift. Eastbound traffic exit ramps will be open to Dequindre and Mound roads and Groesbeck Highway.

Cross stated that although MDOT’s goal is late July, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done “within the next six weeks.” 

On June 1, Moving Macomb released an update on its website about the project. 

“Nearly all of the old (westbound) I-696 pavement has been removed. Excavation for the new base material and installation of the new underdrain system and new pavement base has advanced halfway through the (westbound) side,” the update states.

Moving Macomb also stated that it is in “close communication” with the Southeast Michigan Transportation Operations Center and the Macomb County Communications and Technology Center to “monitor diverted traffic, to coordinate with other projects and to evaluate needs for traffic signal retiming.”

Those driving throughout Roseville and Warren may have seen construction workers sitting in their vehicles at certain entrance ramps. Cross stated that this was to keep cars from following trucks and driving into the work zone, endangering the drivers and construction workers.

 

Advice for Fourth of July travelers: Plan ahead

Heading into the Fourth of July holiday, drivers are being advised to plan ahead and to consult available resources, including traffic apps and social media, to stay aware of travel conditions. 

“Most people are planning ahead. The good news for this Fourth of July is that it falls in the middle of the week,” said AAA Michigan Public Affairs Director Susan Hiltz. “Traffic should be dispersed throughout the week. I think it will give a little bit of ease for traffic during this period. The other thing too is school’s out, so traffic volume is a bit lower.”

Hiltz said AAA Michigan has forecast a “record-breaking” year in 2018 with travel at a “17-year high.”

“We’re looking at 1.6 million Michiganders that are going to journey 50 miles or more,” Hiltz said. “The economy is picking up, the winter was bad, and the Fourth of July is a big vacation time in Michigan. It’s a great time to be traveling around. Hopefully, we’ll have great weather that weekend too.” 

To stay current with the latest updates on the construction project, visit www.movingmacomb.org or follow @MvgMacomb on Twitter or on Facebook.