Early in July a tanker fire on I-75 at Big Beaver caused the freeway to close and has since left it down to one lane each way for cleanup. That section of freeway was just rebuilt in 2019 and will have to undergo a complete reconstruction.
Rob Morosi, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation, says response to the crash was “all hands on deck,” as the Road Commission for Oakland County, fire department and hazmat crews responded at the scene of the crash quickly.
The crash happened near a construction zone and the incident didn’t slow down any progress in terms of the construction. “This area was predominantly rebuilt in 2019 and 2020. So in 2021, a lot of work to connect electrical fiber optics for the freeway, message boards,” he says. “A majority of the construction is done, there’s still some wrap up work to deal with construction, but you’re dealing with a lot of the ancillary things that come at the end of this project.”
The fact that the area was rebuilt recently is tough on drivers, he says. “I think what really is a bitter pill for a lot of people to swallow is that this section was just rebuilt last year. So when you look at, the damage that was done, to replace that amount of infrastructure, it will take several weeks to do but we will replace it on time and not repair it. The damaged sections will be completely replaced.”
MDOT is conducting the work with traffic reduced to one lane, he says, adding it was necessary to relieve pressure and congestion on local roads because I-75 carries so much heavy traffic.
“And that’s tough on drivers. The decision was made to open up one lane in each direction primarily to take the pressure off the local road system. … passenger vehicles, a lot of them will divert to the local road system and work their way around where it’s one lane but if people opt to stay on the freeway, that option is there. … So what we wanted to do was hopefully keep some of that traffic on I-75 and not have all that freeway traffic diverted into local roads.”
MDOT says the repairs to damaged I-75 pavement in Troy are estimated at $1.5 million. The repairs are anticipated to last for 6 weeks.
Listen: Rob Morosi of MDOT talks about the work on I-75 and how it will affect drivers.