Starting as early as 2022, the Michigan Department of Transportation will begin work on a reconstruction project of Interstate 696 from Lahser Road to the I-275 interchange. Construction is expected to last 2.5 years.

Starting as early as 2022, the Michigan Department of Transportation will begin work on a reconstruction project of Interstate 696 from Lahser Road to the I-275 interchange. Construction is expected to last 2.5 years.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Major construction project coming to I-696

By: Jacob Herbert | Metro | Published June 24, 2021

 On top of the road reconstruction, maintenance will be performed on 10 bridges within the project limits. Bridges over Pebble Creek and the Rogue River will be completely redone.

On top of the road reconstruction, maintenance will be performed on 10 bridges within the project limits. Bridges over Pebble Creek and the Rogue River will be completely redone.

Photo by Deb Jacques

METRO DETROIT — Michigan drivers are no strangers to driving past and through construction projects on their daily commutes. Starting next year, Interstate 696 will join I-75 and the laundry list of other road construction projects as the Michigan Department of Transportation seeks to reconstruct the road to make it safer for those who use it every day.

Led by Project Manager David Harrison, MDOT will perform a total road reconstruction project on an 8.5-mile stretch of I-696, from Lahser Road to the I-275 interchange.

“The project will be a complete reconstruction of the highway between I-275 and Lahser,” Harrison said. “The freeway will remain open with at least two lanes in each direction, although there will be numerous ramp closures while being reconstructed, and ramp traffic will be detoured. The project is expected to take two to three years.”

MDOT held a virtual presentation June 10 to share its plan with the public and allow for input. During the presentation, those who attended were taken through a PowerPoint presentation that detailed the work being done, the schedule, expected detours and more. There was also some allotted time for public input.

“There were the expected concerns about the freeway being closed, which it is not,” Harrison said. “There were questions about adding additional ramps, which will not be included in this project. Also questions about sound walls, which will not be added as the requirements for that do not qualify on this project, as it is not being widened or adding capacity. And of course, questions about the schedule, which is too early to be specific other than the expected years of construction in 2023 and 2024.”

While the bulk of the construction will be done in 2023 and 2024, work could start as early as 2022 as workers will need to construct the median crossovers. Harrison said temporary pavement widening may also be done in 2022.

On top of the road reconstruction, MDOT will also perform preventative maintenance on 10 bridges within the project limits. Bridges over Pebble Creek and the Rouge River will be completely replaced.

“It’s certainly important that we maintain the roads,” said Southfield Mayor Ken Siver. “We’re always glad to see road construction. People hate the orange barrels, but the alternative is neglect and unsafe driving conditions. In the scheme of things, these are always relatively short inconveniences.”

In terms of detours, I-696 will still be operational, but drivers will see the freeway split in half. During the reconstruction of eastbound I-696, all traffic will be maintained on the westbound side, with the four lanes being split, allowing for traffic traveling both ways to proceed. The opposite will happen during the reconstruction of westbound I-696. Eastbound I-696 will remain open for drivers to continue their commute. Harrison said drivers will need to plan on adding time to their drive each time they use the interstate.

The total cost of the project was estimated at $225 million, and the main project is funded completely by state bonds, while there are some federal funds involved in the bridge work.

“Since the highway will be a total reconstruction, the public will benefit from a smoother ride and not having to disrupt traffic by doing repairs, repaving or any other maintenance for many years,” Harrison said. “There will be minor geometric improvements, such as increasing ramp taper lengths and superelevations that will provide an increase in safety.

“We will be replacing many culverts that are perched and undersized, which will provide environmental benefits, like fish passage and the reduced chance of flooding,” he continued. “Storm sewers will be designed according to new standards to get water off the road more quickly, so there will be a decreased chance of drivers hitting standing water on the road and potentially losing control.”

For those who missed the presentation, a copy can be made available by emailing MDOT Public Involvement Specialist and Hearings Officer Monica Monsma at MonsmaM@Michigan.gov.