Archive for March 24th, 2014|Daily archive page

Updates on the I-96 Construction

Winter will end officially at 12:57 p.m. today. But don’t put your wool socks in storage just yet.

Though the calendar says spring, winter-like temperatures will remain with us at least through next week.

And it was the extremely cold temps and record snowfall this winter that put the brakes on the I-96 road reconstruction — again.

Weather permitting, the 7-mile project from Telegraph in Redford Township to Newburgh in Livonia has been pushed back to start April 5, MDOT announced Wednesday. It was to start Monday, after being pushed back from late January.

That means the freeway will still be open for those heading into Detroit for the Tigers’ Opening Day on March 31, a popular rite of spring.

“The weather has left the ground too cold to begin construction,” MDOT spokeswoman Diane Cross said. “If we have another snowfall that drops a few inches, we could be further delayed. We’re getting close to a start date, but it’s foolish to force drivers off I-96 to begin work we can’t do at full volume.”

Plans for the $150-million overhaul, which was awarded to Shelby Township contractor Dan’s Excavating, call for building a new road and ramps, adding new overhead lighting and updating or replacing about three dozen bridges.

Officials say a full reconstruction is necessary. Steel bars run perpendicular along freeway lane lines just below the asphalt, working to keep the lanes from buckling. As they separate — letting in air, water and other elements — the ground heaves under the pressure. MDOT officials say workers have been filling gaps and making fixes for years to keep the road functional.

But until reconstruction of I-96 starts, metro Detroit will remain in sort of a faux winter.

A week of highs in the 40s is expected to take an icy turn as highs of perhaps 30 degrees are expected Sunday in metro Detroit, according to the National Weather Service.

“Unfortunately, it looks like we’re actually going to cool down again for the Sunday and Monday time frame,” said weather service meteorologist Dan Thompson.

The spring equinox arrives as a welcome milestone after a record-breaking bitter winter marked by busted water mains, depleted salt reserves and apocalyptic potholes. The snowfall came within a small icicle’s reach of the record, totaling 90.7 inches so far this winter cycle. The record of 93.6 inches in 1880-81 could yet be broken with one substantial late-season storm.

In the immediate forecast, there doesn’t appear to be anything quite that strong, according to the Weather Service.

The predicted high today is in the lower 40s, and the average high is 47 degrees, Thompson said.

Still, winter left a parting shot for drivers Wednesday afternoon as a gaping hole appeared in the right center lane of southbound I-75 at the Rouge River bridge. MDOT officials closed the two right lanes on the four-lane highway to patch up the hole, leaving drivers in a lurch during their evening commutes.

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