By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – Michigan’s biggest bridge by area – the I-75 Rouge River Bridge – will close four lanes at a time, from Feb. 2017 through 2018, for replacement of the bridge deck.
Southbound traffic will be detoured for the length of the project, and four lanes will remain open northbound, on the original roadway, and then redirect north on the repaired southbound lanes, to maintain a direct freeway link to the border crossing with Windsor.
The Michigan Department of Transportation will replace all eight lanes for the 1.63-mile bridge, which has 106 spans, four 12-foot wide lanes in each direction, and carries about 37 million vehicles per year.
The span was built in 1967 for $25 million. From 1975 to 2010, MDOT said $65 million was spent on repairs.
Officials estimate replacing the deck will cost $90 million, whereas a new bridge would have cost $400 million.
The obsolete I-75 bridge over Goddard Road and the Sexton-Kilfoil Drain will be replaced with two smaller bridges. Eleven other bridges will be repaired, and I-75 pavement will be repaired from the Springwells exit to the Northline exit.
The new Goddard bridges will cost about $30 million in total, with $14 million budgeted for repairs to 11 other bridges. About $3 million is earmarked for the pavement repair from Springwells to Northline.
Southbound I-75 ramp closures include Clark Street, Livernois, Springwells, Dearborn Street, Schaefer, Outer Drive, Southfield Road and Dix.
Northbound I-75 ramps will be closed at Dearborn Street, Schaefer, Northline and Goddard.
The recommended detour for southbound I-75 traffic is I-96 westbound to I-275 southbound to where it meets up with I-75 near Newport.
For a map, detailed list and detours, go to 75rougeriver.com/detours.html.
Deputy Fire Chief Steven Densmore said at a July 12 Melvindale Public Safety Commission meeting that at an MDOT meeting he attended July 11 it was acknowledged that commuters will likely use I-94 to Telegraph to get from downtown Detroit to Downriver.
Since fuel trucks from the Marathon refinery will be unable to get on I-75 at Schaefer, Densmore said MDOT will establish a route for fuel trucks to minimize traffic and damage to county and city roads ill-equipped for heavy truck traffic.
For additional updates and information, go to 75rougeriver.com.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)