Drivers frustrated as 3-year construction project begins on M-14

Posted at 5:55 AM, May 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-15 09:24:16-04

(WXYZ) — At this point, the orange barrels are just about everywhere in metro Detroit. It seems nearly impossible to pick a route to dodge them.

There's another big project kicking off this year, this time on M-14.

I have been hearing from a lot of frustrated people about all of the construction, and I took those concerns directly to the Michigan Department of Transportation to see why they want to start more work when there is already so much underway.

“So M-14 is going to be going down to one lane this summer, is that going to slow you down?” I asked Tracy Birkenhier, who drives through Plymouth.

“Yeah, I think all of this slows us down," she said.

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Work is kicking off on M-14 between Newburgh and Sheldon. It's the first year of a three-year project, and one of many projects going on in our area.

Another is on I-275, where the freeway is down to one lane, or on I-96 and I-696 in Oakland County.

“It does seem a little excessive," Birkenhier said. "They need to take time and do one portion and then another portion, but when they do them all at once it makes it hard to divert where to go, so you have to add a lot more time onto your day.”

“Why do this now?” I asked Dave Harris, a senior construction contract engineer with MDOT.

"We are are actually trying to stagger this one, and that is why things are I guess so light this year in terms of the work because we understand we do have some of these other projects that are going on," Harris said.

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Harris tells me there is one more weekend freeway closure planned for M-14 this year, but work really ramps up in July.

“We are going to have major impacts on westbound with double lanes closures, so everything will be down to one lane, after the Fourth of July, for about a month," Harris said.

Even with the effort to ease the pain for drivers, people in the area say it's a bit overwhelming.

“There’s like a lot of traffic in the area, and it’s going to be pretty busy just to turn it into one lane," Joshua Greer said.

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“I’ll probably end up taking more back roads to back and forth to my mom’s and to school," Elle Wilson added.

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Year two of the M-14 project will have two lanes open in each direction on the westbound lanes to reconstruct the eastbound lanes.

During the third year, traffic shifts onto the eastbound lanes to rebuild westbound.

It was 10 years ago that I-96 was under construction between Newburgh and Telegraph, just east of where work on M-14 is kicking off.

“Why didn’t you do all this work then?” I asked.

"It is really based on the funding and condition of the road at the time, and we are really bound by those two things," Harris said.

He said the work on M-14 is a must. It was built in the 1970s and needs a full reconstruct to make sure it lasts a good 20-30 years. With the funds now in place, MDOT wants to get the work done.

"It’s something that we live with in Michigan, it is what it is," Birkenhier said.

There will also be 17 bridges that will see construction in this area during the project.

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