Southfield construction to last 11 months

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – Southfield Freeway will be the next victim of orange-barrel syndrome in 2011.

The local freeway will be under various stages of construction between January and November of next year. However, motorists should expect to be primarily slowed down by lane closures only between June and October.

“Coming out of the gate of the new year, there won’t be much impact to commuters,” said Rob Morosi, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation. “You will see a lot of work up top, not as much on the freeway.”

The $80 million investment, 80 percent of which is paid for by federal funding (compared with 20 percent state funding), will revitalize 3 1/4 miles of Southfield.

From January through Memorial Day, 24 bridge overpasses will be rehabilitated, and the freeway lights from Ford Road north past Eight Mile Road will be replaced, resulting in single lane closures.

Residents who work north of McNichols (Six Mile) Road will have an additional burden, as the entire stretch from I-96 north to the Lodge (M-10) will be closed down completely from June through October for drainage installation and road reconstruction. Commercial traffic and trucks will be detoured to Telegraph Road, but personal vehicles can use Evergreen, Greenfield or any other road.

“By doing that under full closure, we can limit it to five months. We improve mobility,” Morosi said. “We didn’t really want to put all that detour on there during winter.”

He said MDOT looked at all of the options, including keeping some lanes open, but that the narrow corridor is limiting.

“It’s an older freeway; we don’t have a lot of shoulder width,” Morosi said. “Using one lane for 100,000 vehicles is essentially useless.”

Southfield Freeway originally was constructed in Detroit in 1963 and 1964, with the I-96 interchange updated to its current appearance in 1977. Other than some repairs in the late 1990s, none of the freeway has ever been rebuilt.

Residents staying local in Dearborn and Allen Park can expect screen wall north-south barrier replacements, in addition to the bridge overpass and light-emitting diode light upgrades running south along Southfield to Outer Drive. New barriers on the entrance and exit ramps are also expected to fix erosion issues with the assistance of fresh grass and plant landscaping.

Morosi emphasized that as much work as possible would be done during off-peak hours when traffic flow is lightest.

“The entire project will be done in November 2011,” Morosi said.

For more information on the upcoming project, visit or watch “M-39 (Southfield Freeway) – Project Overview” at

(Contact Chris Jackett at