Troy police say freeway construction, ramp closures hinder first responders

Drunken driver hits I-75 median wall six times

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published September 3, 2019

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TROY — A drunken driving incident on Interstate 75, near Crooks Road, Aug. 16 highlighted the struggles that police and first responders are facing in responding to the hard-to-access freeway.

Police responded to northbound I-75 just before 11:15 p.m. Aug. 16 on a report that the driver of a 2003 Buick Century was driving erratically and had struck the freeway median wall barrier six times.

According to police, one of the car’s tires became dislodged from the vehicle, which was then found disabled against the median wall.

According to the police report, when the responding officer spoke with the driver, a 37-year-old Flint woman, she smelled of alcohol and admitted to consuming one drink to celebrate her boyfriend’s birthday.

Police said she did not understand why she could not open the driver’s side door, which was up against the concrete barrier, and she did not realize she had been involved in an accident.

According to the police report, an open container of alcohol had spilled across the floor of the vehicle.

The driver reportedly needed police assistance to stand and walk when she got out of her car. She became belligerent with officers and refused to perform sobriety tests, police said.

She was arrested and transported to the Troy Police Department, where she blew a 0.18% blood alcohol content on a breath test, according to the police report.

Police discovered that her license was suspended, and she did not have vehicle insurance.

The woman was charged with drunken driving, second offense; driving on a suspended license; having no vehicle insurance; and transporting an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle.

“There’s a limited number of access points to I-75 due to construction,” Sgt. Meghan Lehman said via email. “Our response to this incident, like others that have happened on the freeway during construction, took much longer than it would have if there was no construction. We are still encouraging residents to seek alternate routes whenever possible because of how difficult it is for first responders, tow trucks and others to get to emergencies on the freeway right now.”

Currently, both directions of I-75 traffic, separated by a temporary concrete barrier, are maintained on the southbound side of the freeway. This will allow for the northbound lanes and bridges to be reconstructed this year. This configuration is expected to remain in place until late November, and it results in frequent ramp closures.

When completed, the $224 million project — the second phase of the I-75 modernization project — will reconstruct 8 miles of pavement and 18 structures, upgrade drainage and improve aesthetics. It will feature federally approved noise walls and a high-occupancy vehicle lane between Coolidge Highway and 13 Mile Road.

Final pavement markings for the 8-mile segment through Troy will be finished in 2021.