People living near the Modernize 75 project say construction has torn up neighborhood streets

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Posted at 9:49 PM, Mar 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-07 22:14:40-05

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) — A state construction project is costing people time and money in one Royal Oak neighborhood. The area is on Stephenson Highway between Lincoln and 11 Mile road.

People living there are forced to back out onto a messy dirt road. Neighbors say massive excavators sometimes leave behind major dips and holes that fill with water.

Tyler Ketelhut says he was just trying to get home after a long day at work. His dash cam recorded the moment he got stuck in the mud and had to call for help.

"Are you still with your vehicle," a dispatcher can be heard asking.

"Yeah, I am actually a good 30 feet from my house," responded Ketelhut.

"I am going to get an officer out there to help you get out," said the dispatcher.

According to Ketelhuts measuring tape, the divots he got stuck in were 17 inches deep.

"I had to get a tow truck, damage to the undercarriage of my car, and the paint is all torn up," said Ketelhut.

Ketelhut says he ended up missing work.

"Because obviously, it was 7 o'clock last night when I had gotten stuck and I feared I was going to get stuck going back out," said Ketelhut.

The road work and commotion are all part of the Modernize I-75 project. According to MDOT'S website, the construction is unfolding in three segments.

We called Rob Morosi with MDOT. He oversees the project. I explained the situation and how the area by Ketelhut's home had since been graded. The same couldn't be said for the rest of the road.

"Once you get out on the road, you're definitely kicking up mud for a while, so it is always fun," said Dustin Meckes.

Meckes is a little more light-hearted when it comes to the mess, even though his driveway is situated right in front of a gaping hole.

"I mean, obviously, quicker, faster, smoother we would all enjoy, but at the same time, in the end, if it fixes the roads, I am cool with it," said Meckes.

Morosi says back-to-back weekends of winter weather likely aggravated the situation.

In a statement he said:

We understand the challenges residents are experiencing in the neighborhood. Maintaining reasonable access to their homes is a priority, and we will continue to work with the contractors to ensure that occurs throughout the remainder of the project.

"MDOT, I messaged them on Facebook a few times and they basically just say it'll be weeks if they ever do end up contacting me," said Ketelhut.

Ketelhut was told construction will continue through the near end of 2023.

"I want a callback. I want my money reimbursed for the tow truck and I just want the company to take better care of the road to keep it usable to the residents," said Ketelhut.

He said the tow truck company cut him a deal and charged him $100 dollars since he was only feet from his home.

Claims filed with MDOT that are under $1,000 are often denied due to governmental immunity. Now, if your damage claim is more than $1,000 dollars you have to file a lawsuit against MDOT to recover your money.

Ketelhut is under the impression that contractors are supposed lay down gravel before they leave for the day. We posed that question to Morosi, but he wasn't able to get us the information by air time.