DETROIT (WWJ) – Coming soon: A major, longterm freeway closure in metro Detroit.

Those who travel I-75 from Detroit to Downriver should jot down the date of Feb. 4, 2017 — the planned start of a nearly two-year closure for the rebuilding of the Rouge River Bridge, which crossed by an estimated 37 million vehicles each year.

At a media event on Monday, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) shared that start date along with more details about the $170 million project that will begin on the southbound side.

During the first phase of this project, commercial and out-of-town traffic in the southbound lanes of I-75 will be detoured on I-96 to I-275 (with a tentative completion date of October, 2018). Northbound I-75 traffic from Monroe to the Ambassador Bridge will be maintained during this phase of the project.

When the southbound side is complete, construction will then shift to the northbound side, with traffic using the newly-refinished southbound lanes. Local traffic will use M-85/Fort Street, Telegraph and other surface drives. [More detour info].

Even though the 35-mile detour is  expected to add an extra 30-35 miles to the trip downriver, MDOT’s Adam Penzenstadler says it made more sense that routing both direction of traffic on the northbound side of the bridge, which carries four lanes of traffic each way.

“When you take I-75 down to two lanes the backups are miles and miles in each direction, and it really slows down the mobility there,” he told WWJ’s Ron Dewey and other reporters. “Plus, if you have four lanes of traffic plus the center barrier wall that you would need to separate opposing bounds of traffic, there’s not enough room left on the bridge.”

The Rouge River Bridge is classified as structurally deficient because of its deteriorating deck surface, and MDOT’s Bill Erban says anyone who travels the bridge knows how badly this fix is needed.

Concerns about safety along the 49-year-old span were raised in recent months after potholes opened up through the roadway.

“Now’s the time that the Rouge really needs to be repaired. You know that there’s been quite a few concrete incidents, and so we’ve been repairing the deck and spending quite a bit of money,” Erban said. “So I think now’s the time to do it.”

He said crews will actually be peeling off that concrete, repairing the steel, and pouring new concrete.

At Goddard, Erban said, they’ll be taking out two long bridges and building four shorter bridges.

“As long as we’ve got traffic detoured, which we will have, it was a good time to do the bridges down on Goddard which are also in need of repair,” he explained. “…Bridges are more expensive to maintain than road, so we’re actually replacing a section of the bridge with road and putting a lightweight material underneath…So, it’s kind of innovative.”

For a map and complete information about the project, visit


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