Projects set to close lanes on I-96, I-696 as road construction season ramps up

696 and 96 traffic 2
696 and 96 traffic
Posted at 5:42 PM, Mar 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-15 21:39:58-04

(WXYZ) — Drivers in metro Detroit can expect more detours as the Michigan Department of Transportation works to reconstruct portions of I-96 and I-696.

Starting at 2 p.m. Wednesday, MDOT says WB I-96, Wixom to Kent Lake, will have two lanes open through late fall. Drivers can also expect ramp closures at the following locations through fall 2023:

  • EB I-96 connector to EB I-696, ONE LANE OPEN, through late fall 2023
  • WB I-696 connector to I-96, ONE LANE OPEN, through late fall 2023
  • WB M-5 ramp to WB I-96, CLOSED, through late fall 2023
  • Detour: NB M-5 to WB 12 Mile to SB M-5 to WB I-96
  • EB and WB I-696, Lahser to I-275 interchange, TWO LANES OPEN, through late fall 2023
  • WB I-696 connector to WB I-96, ONE LANE OPEN, through late fall 2023
  • EB I-96 connector to EB I-696, ONE LANE OPEN, through late fall 2023

"We’re doing a complete reconstruction on both freeways so tearing up all the old pavement, replacing old storm sewers, rehabbing bridges, replacing culverts. At the end of these projects we’ll have a brand new driving structure, new infrastructure, new drainage," said MDOT construction engineer Brian Travis. " Anybody that drives these stretches has seen the potholes. The pavement is old. It’s deteriorating. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into patching this road so it’s time to reconstruct."

Travis says the projects on I-696 and I-96 cost over $500 million. Because the two roadways see nearly 180,000 drivers every single day, MDOT plans to implement flex routes to ease traffic during peak hours.

"It’ll make travel times more reliable especially coming eastbound, afternoon going westbound," said Travis. "Those will go from I-275 to Kent Lake Road and those won’t be operational until the end of 2024."

MDOT says the I-696 and I-96 projects are not the only projects underway in metro Detroit.

"We do have work going on everywhere," said Diane Cross with MDOT. "In Wayne county, we still have the I-275 project going on, roughly down near the airport near Eureka all the way up to the I-96, M-14 interchange. We’re now in year three of that. We’re down to two lanes in each direction. We have some upcoming work near the interchange."

Cross says in about a month MDOT will be closing ramps between I-275 and I-94. Those closures will last for about six weeks. There's also currently work underway on Telegraph between Grand River and 8 Mile, a project on I-94 in Macomb County, and work happening near I-75 and I-696, which is set to wrap up by the end of 2023.

"I do think in the last few years, we have had more construction projects than in the last 20 years. That’s my guesstimate. It’s a ton of money but it’s a ton of investment though in metro Detroit if you think about it. Yes, it is inconvenient but it’s a short-term pain for that long-term gain," said Cross.

Drivers say the major construction projects all at once can be frustrating to navigate.

"I just saw a bunch of barrels, a bunch of signs. It’s always something here," said driver Hass Hammoud. "Honestly it never makes me know when I’m going to get to work. It’s always unpredictable. I can either be 30 minutes early or I can be an hour late."

Driver Linda Phillips says she deals with similar construction every year.

"It’s county roads, state roads, and city roads that all conglomerate here in Novi, and they don’t talk to each other. So when you get to a detour, there’s another detour for another road. Before you know it, you’re going 20 miles out of your way," said Phillips.

Some drivers say they avoid the construction zones altogether by taking alternate routes.

"I live in Auburn Hills and I work in Novi. I never take the expressway for that reason," said Beverly Archer. "You’ll never get to work on time and it’s just too much going on."

MDOT says the I-696, 96 projects are set to continue through 2025. More information about the project can be found here.