Picture a football field.
Now picture two dozen football fields.
Now picture all of them covered with concrete.
That’s how much concrete the Michigan Department of Transportation has used to rebuild the southbound lanes of I-75 over the Rouge River in Detroit. It’s part of a two-year project to replace a road surface that had been crumbling for years.
The work began in February 2017, with the closure of southbound lanes approaching the Rouge River bridge. Eight months later, workers have finished pouring the new concrete and are getting ready to open this side of the bridge. In November, they’ll start the process on the northbound side.
“Once the concrete driving surface is completed, the bridge rail will be completed on the inside and the outside,” says MDOT Project Manager Bill Erben. “Then later on, in November, traffic will be moved from the northbound side of the bridge over to the newly completed southbound side, and we’ll repeat the whole procedure.”
The closure of southbound 75 has caused a few problems for drivers. Trucks are supposed to exit the freeway at I-96 and head west to I-275. But some drivers go beyond the detour and get off at Livernois or Springwells, where 75 is closed completely. That has created long backups on Fort Street in southwest Detroit, especially during afternoon rush hour. Erben says MDOT is doing its best to manage the congestion, but can’t keep trucks off of Fort Street.
“We’ve tried to maximize the timing for Fort Street on the traffic signals,” Erben says, adding MDOT has tried to “get the word out” about other options, including Jefferson and Dix.
It’s taken about eight months to get to the halfway-point of the project. Based on that, Erben says he expects MDOT to have the entire bridge deck replaced and open in both directions within a year.
“We started in February, and here it is October, and we’re nearly done with southbound,” Erben says. “All things considered, we would probably make even better progress on the northbound side.”
MDOT is also replacing several other bridges, including the overpasses at Goddard Road, the dividing line between Allen Park and Southgate. Workers have finished the southbound bridge over Goddard, and diverted northbound traffic onto the new pavement. Crews are demolishing the northbound bridge.
Click on the audio player to hear the conversation with WDET’s Pat Batcheller.
Keep track of the project here.