By DeJanay Booth

(CBS Detroit) — A construction project to rebuild interstate 96 and create a flex route in Oakland County will begin on March 21.

According to a press release from the Governor’s Office, the three-year project will include rebuilding the freeway between Kent Lake Road and I-275/M-5/I-696 interchange, rebuilding the median shoulders for use during peak periods, sign upgrades, and active traffic management installation.

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According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, the traffic management system will include:

  • Gantries, lane control signs, message boards, cameras, and detection to allow part-time peak-period median shoulder use, provide queue warning and variable speed advisories, and facilitate incident management.
  • Ramp metering at eight entrance ramps to help reduce congestion and improve travel time reliability and safety by breaking up entering traffic groups.
  • Seven crash investigation sites along outside shoulders to provide clearance of incidents

The project is part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Rebuilding Michigan program.

“It is pretty simple: no one likes sitting in traffic. It takes away from valuable time at home, with friends, or at work. That is why we are excited to announce the beginning of this project in Oakland County to safely and efficiently alleviate road congestion. Orange cones and barrels are hitting the road as work begins on our Flex Route where the freeway shoulder can be used by motorists during peak travel times, to save drivers time on their commutes,” Whitmer said.

“Since taking office, Michigan has rebuilt, replaced, or repaired over 13,000 lane miles of road and over 900 bridges while supporting 82,000 jobs. But that progress does not mean our work is over, and I will keep working hard to jump start even more projects to fix the damn roads with the right mix and material so they stay fixed.”

Officials say the construction project will be done in stages.

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Beginning March 21, improvements will be made to the eastbound and westbound median and outside shoulders, as well as temporary crossovers installed to shift traffic during the project. 

Starting in late May through late fall 2022, eastbound and westbound I-96 traffic will be shifted onto the westbound lanes between Kent Lake Road and Wixom Road, with two lanes open in each direction to accommodate the rebuilding of the eastbound lanes.

I-96 traffic will have three eastbound lanes and two westbound lanes between Wixom Road and the I-275/I-696/M-5 interchange during median drainage work.

The following ramps will be closed during this stage:  

  • Northbound and southbound Kent Lake Road ramps to eastbound I-96
  • Northbound and southbound Milford Road ramps to eastbound I-96
  • Eastbound I-96 exit ramps to Milford and Wixom roads, and the Milford and Wixom road ramps to westbound I-96.

Officials say the first stage will be finished and ramps will be reopened by late fall 2022.

State officials say the first flex route was installed on US-23 north of Ann Arbor in Washtenaw and Livingston counties.

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