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Work on I-75 from 13 Mile to Coolidge will start soon

By: Terry Oparka | C&G Newspapers | Published February 25, 2020

 Troy resident Liz Polk listens to Michigan Department of Transportation representative Cathy St. Pierre talk about the 1-75 modernization project during a forum at the Troy Community Center Feb. 20.

Troy resident Liz Polk listens to Michigan Department of Transportation representative Cathy St. Pierre talk about the 1-75 modernization project during a forum at the Troy Community Center Feb. 20.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 This video depicts the new diverging diamond interchange that will be constructed at Big Beaver Road and Interstate 75.

This video depicts the new diverging diamond interchange that will be constructed at Big Beaver Road and Interstate 75.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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OAKLAND COUNTY — Work to move the lanes of north- and southbound traffic to the newly constructed northbound lanes of Interstate 75 is scheduled to start at the end of February as the continuation of segment two of the I-75 modernization project swings into spring.

Motorists will continue to drive on just two lanes for north- and southbound traffic on I-75, between 13 Mile Road and Coolidge Highway, while work is completed this spring, summer and fall.

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.

Work includes building noise walls where qualified, and installing new diverging diamond interchanges at Big Beaver and 14 Mile roads.

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

The Michigan Department of Transportation held an open house-style meeting to answer questions about the project at the Troy Community Center Feb. 20.

Troy resident Awni Fakhoury stopped by with concerns about noise near his home at Square Lake Road and Coolidge Highway. He told C & G Newspapers that a window in his home cracked during the road construction last summer.

MDOT spokesman Rob Morosi said he was encouraged by the number of attendees, over 40 at the forum as of 4:45 p.m.; doors opened at 4 p.m.

“The reach and breadth of impact to the local community is evident,” he said. “Will everybody be happy with the answers? No, absolutely not. But they’re not being sent through levels (of bureaucracy) where information can get distorted.”

Morosi said that the prep work to shift traffic takes several weeks and involves installing barriers, guardrails and stripes for the new traffic lanes, things dependent on dry weather to complete, usually overnight and on weekends.

“It could take two and a half weeks or most of March,” Morosi said.

He explained that the diverging diamond interchanges at the 14 Mile and Big Beaver interchanges will make it easier for motorists to reach posted speeds and merge more safely than the current big loop ramps allow. “A straight line is so much safer for exiting and entering and eliminating conflict points,” he said.

Morosi noted that while people were hesitant at first after the diverging diamond interchange was constructed at University Drive in segment one of the project, “today there are no complaints.”

Tom Haddad, of West Marine, which operates a retail store on Big Beaver Road, told C & G Newspapers he stopped by the Feb. 20 forum in an effort to be forewarned and prepared for the impact to the business, which he said was significant during work last year.

“I know it’s not a forever downturn,” Haddad said. “It was hard on the store. We didn’t have enough information last year and underestimated the scope of impact of them (customers) not being able to get to that location. We’re not a ‘have to’; we’re a ‘want to.’

“Not all business transfers to other locations,” he added. “Looks like we’re going to have to plan for this and be ready next year.”

Royal Oak resident Bob Moore and his wife, Diane, stopped by the forum to get an update on the next phase of the project.

“I’m always on the freeway for business,” he said. He said he is looking forward to the new interchanges at Big Beaver and 14 Mile roads, and he said he likes the new interchange at University Drive.

Bob Moore signed up for email alerts from MDOT.

“It keeps you on top of the situation,” Diane Moore said.

The $127 million first phase of the project, the addition of one lane to northbound and southbound I-75, covered 3 miles of the freeway, between South Boulevard and Coolidge Highway, through Bloomfield Township, Auburn Hills and Troy. That began in August 2016. The project’s first phase of construction also replaced five bridges, reconfigured the interchange at Square Lake Road and made improvements to the Adams Road carpool lot.

That work was completed in 2017.

Federal funding covers about 80% of the total project costs.

That stretch of freeway carries up to 174,000 vehicles per day.

Prep work on the third and final phase, from 13 Mile Road to Eight Mile Road, started last fall and continues. The anticipated completion is in fall 2023.

For updates on the construction project, visit modernize75.com.

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