An often-congested 13-mile stretch of Interstate 275 from Hannan Road in Van Buren Township to Six Mile Road in Northville will be slowed even more this summer as the Michigan Department of Transportation's (MDOT) $23.5 million bridge overhaul gets under way.
The project, which will overhaul 34 bridges and overpasses along the route, began this month and is expected to last through November, according to MDOT spokesman Rob Morosi.
Morosi said the projects are about evenly split between bridges and overpasses. The bridges, he said, often cause the most inconvenience for motorists because of the 24/7 nature of the construction work.
Already, travelers in Plymouth, Canton and Northville are seeing the effects on local traffic with regular traffic backups at busy interchanges.
"In this project, I will freely admit it will test the patience of the motoring public," Morosi said.
Already on Facebook, Patch readers are chiming in on their transportation woes.
Courtney Fishwick of Plymouth wrote that traffic is "such a mess every way you turn."
Mary Boglarsky Oesterwind of Canton wrote that "M-14 was horrible this weekend, too," and that she had a hard time avoiding the traffic backups.
The project also includes resurfacing 5 1/2 miles of expressway between Ecorse and Ford roads and work on railroad bridges between Michigan Avenue and Cherry Hill in Canton.
Bridge project also will affect local roads
The project will close oft-traveled overpasses in Plymouth Township such as Ann Arbor Trail and Ann Arbor Road, but Morosi said MDOT keeps a matrix to keep options available for motorists to prevent Ann Arbor Road and Ann Arbor Trail from both being closed at the same time.
Additionally, Morosi said, local roads will bear the brunt of most of the diverted I-275 traffic.
"We'll obviously see additional traffic on the local road system," he said, with people avoiding I-275. "It's going to be a summer where people are goign to have to negotiate using different roads than they're traditionally used to."
For those relying on I-275 for their daily commute, Morosi said, he would advise taking an alternate route.
Safety outweighs convenience, Morosi says
While drivers might be inconvenienced by the months-long project, Morosi said safety is the top concern.
"A majority of bridges have elements that are structurally deficient and nobody wants to be inconvenienced," he said. "But people don't want to be traveling over unsafe bridges."
He said options have been investigated to ease the burden on motorists, but they were either not feasible or would have drawn out construction through multiple years.
Check live traffic on Patch before commute
Patch has live maps of local traffic that will show you areas to avoid. Click on "Commute" at the top of the page for an up-to-the-minute traffic map and local gas prices.