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Posted on Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

MDOT project to close nine miles of I-94 in Ann Arbor for four weekends this summer

By Amy Biolchini


Interstate 94 seen from the Platt Road overpass looking west on April 23 when a truck accident caused traffic delays in the eastbound lanes. MDOT is planning to close one direction of traffic on the roadway at a time on select weekends this summer for resurfacing.

Daniel Brenner I

A major repair project on Interstate 94 along the south side of Ann Arbor will separately close the road to eastbound and westbound traffic over four weekends this summer.

The Michigan Department of Transportation has allocated about $3.5 million in state and federal funds for the work, which is slated to begin after the July 4 holiday weekend.

The project, which will resurface about nine miles of I-94 from the M-14 split to the Carpenter Road overpass, is still out to bid.

One direction of I-94 will be entirely closed per weekend within the project limits, beginning with the eastbound lanes.

“No two directions will be closed at the same time,” said Mark Sweeney, manager of MDOT’s Brighton post.

The closures will begin late on a Friday and extend to the early hours of a Monday morning.

However, the specific dates for construction have not been set - and likely won’t be announced until about four to five days before the closure is set to start, according to MDOT officials.

As a part of the contract, MDOT has specified certain weekends that the contractor cannot close the roadway because of major events happening in Ann Arbor - including the Ann Arbor Art Fairs, University of Michigan football games, college move-in weekends and graduations, Sweeney said.

It’s up to the contractor to determine the schedule, Sweeney said. The contractor must finish the entire project by mid-November, Sweeney said.

Work will be weather-dependent. Crews can operate in a light rain, Sweeney said, but downpours will prevent work from happening.

“Ideally we want to make sure we’re putting down quality work,” Sweeney said.

Detours for the road closure will route drivers to take U.S. 23 to M-14 around Ann Arbor to continue on their east-west route.

I-94 is a composite roadway a layer of hot mix asphalt on top of concrete.

During the weekend closures, crews will be patching the concrete base of the roadway by cutting out concrete joints and re-pouring them, Sweeney said. MDOT anticipates the patching work on one direction of I-94 can be completed in two weekends’ time.

“If we did this under traffic, we could take (I-94) down to one lane (on the weekends),” Sweeney said, explaining that it would take about seven weekends for the work to be completed on one direction of I-94.

Doing the work under traffic would create an unsafe work situation and would severely congest the area, Sweeney said. It would also push the project’s completion date well into 2014, Sweeney said.

After the patching is completed on the roadway, MDOT will be announcing nighttime lane closures on I-94 so crews can mill about 1.5 inches of the road surface and re-pave it.

Sweeney said there will not be nighttime lane closures on one direction of I-94 when the other direction is completely closed over a weekend for the patching work.

Recognizing the brevity of the scope of the project, Sweeney said MDOT has met with emergency responders and business owners in two separate meetings to address questions they may have about the project.

Emergency responders were most interested in what the dates would be for construction, Sweeney said -- a detail that is still to be determined.

MDOT has set a public information session on the project from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. on June 13 at the Pittsfield Township offices at 6201 West Michigan Ave.

At the same time that MDOT will be initiating the I-94 project, it will be balancing another resurfacing project on one of its detour routes for the project: M-14 between U.S. 23 on the north side of Ann Arbor; known by some as the “tri-levels.”

The contractor for the tri-level project has been patching the roadway with hot mix asphalt since mid-May during nighttime lane closures seven days per week.

After July 4, that contractor will only be able to work during nighttime hours Mondays through Thursdays so the lane closures won’t conflict with the detoured traffic from the I-94 project, Sweeney said.

“It’s worth a little longer construction time to not affect the commuting traffic,” Sweeney said.

After patching the roadway, crews will begin milling about 1.5 inches of the surface off the road and then re-paving it. The $1.5 million project is being funded using a mix of federal dollars and state money from the Michigan Transportation Fund.

For up-to-date information on scheduled lane closures:

View 2013 MDOT road construction in a larger map

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Ann English

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 11:51 p.m.

Sounds like the stretch of M-14 between the triple-deckers has been resurfaced nightly, that we can use it during the day; I've been using it almost every Sunday for months.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 10:26 p.m.

The essence of an Einstien quip was to answer which was expanding faster. The universe or human stupidity. His answer was human stupidity. His conjecture is once again confirmed by the plan for the project. So I 94 traffic will be diverted onto what under untied roads? This project plan was designed by morons, will be managed by morons And so we'll get to sit in a parking lot trying to get anywhere.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 7:24 p.m.

Too bad May (after campus move out) and June would have been the better time to do this. July has holiday traffic and art fair traffic, August bring everyone back in town and football games. Good planning.

Chad Michael

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 7:14 p.m.

I am all for stretching out 94 in both directions to incorporate three lanes going each way. The problem is, that when 94 was laid out between Chicago and Detroit between 1956 and 1961 (it was called US-12 then, the current US-12 was a secondary Det/Chi route called Us-112), there were significantly less cars and drivers at the time, and no one could even possibly see a need or such thing then. Sadly because of this, when 94 was in it's original build process, the civil engineers of the day only saw the need for four lanes each way between Chicago and Detroit, the city and state allotted so much space to build it, and later the city and state allowed people to build too close to the existing freeway over time, (and ODDLY on the edge o a large pond/swamp area) to make widening the Fwy, a pretty daunting impossibility. They would have to heavily rework the westbound side of the US-23 interchange, and bring in tons of dirt and get dangerously close to existing dwellings to make it a six-laner. Sadly that would take billions and time and energy no one really wishes to put forth. Just an opinion and well-known fact.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

Actually, they could just put it up in the air for a bit, like they did in Toledo recently.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 7:04 p.m.

Like some of the commenters above, I'd also like to see a lane added on this stretch. My understanding is that the biggest challenge is around the Westgate mall. There is no space to accommodate a widening there, unless you either re-build parts of that shopping center, or move parts of the cemetery on the other side. I still hope that they get around to it eventually.

Ann English

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 12:03 a.m.

Apparently whoever put in the housing (on Russell and Bens) felt that it would be all right to put in that housing right near I-94, that residents wouldn't mind the noise of the traffic. And they haven't. So someone else decided to put in more housing to the south, building more dead-end roads off South Maple. Again, the housing was accepted. Then, there's a house well off Scio Church Road that is easily visible from the freeway, just west of the Scio Church Road bridge over I-94. But houses have been removed from South Dixboro Road to make room for the bridge there today crossing high over the Huron River, so some higher purpose emerging in the future could lead to widening I-94 right there along South Maple Road, calling for the removal of some buildings.

Matt Irelan

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.

I would be great if they considered ArtFair weekend in their planning


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 1:01 a.m.

They did. Mentioned in the article.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 6:49 p.m.

Any plans to integrate noise reduction walls or materials?


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 6:31 p.m.

I hope they work more hours than 9-5. Should be 24 hours a day like they do in other states. Hopefully the unions won't prohibit the hours of work!


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 6:23 p.m.

How dare they close the road! I need to drive my car across town! They close the roads for anything these days....marathons, repairs, etc. I pay my taxes I demand the roads to be available to vehicles.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 6:20 p.m.

Count me in as a proponent for another lane on both sides. Should do the same thing with 23 from 94 to 96.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

Ann The housing on Russel and Ben would not be impacted by more lanes. The house you are talking about well off Scio Church has been there since at least the early fifties. It actually is on part of S. Maple that was cut off by 94 in the late fifties.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 9:22 a.m.

Adding lanes doesn't actually relieve congestion, it just facilitates sprawl until you reach the same congestion level. Plus, we don't have the tax dollars to do so.

Ann English

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 12:11 a.m.

I know what you mean: looking at nothbound US-23 from the Pontiac Trail bridge over M-14, often jammed with vehicles barely moving, and more pouring in from westbound M-14, makes one wonder if there's an accident ahead, or if it's just rush-hour traffic. I've been caught in westbound I-94 afternoon rush-hour traffic, relieved it was just crowded and therefore no police were going to direct us off at exits we didn't intend to use. But businesses have boomed in Dexter and Jackson Boulevard, with more to come; another lane on both sides would facilitate getting to the new and recent businesses. One just opened on Baker Road.

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 4:46 p.m.

get the stretchers out and make it three lanes while you're at it.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 4 p.m.

Will the be putting in bike lanes and pedestrian crossing?


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 1:29 a.m.

Haha! Yes in fact eight bike lanes will be paved with gold leaf and rose pedals. Pedestrian crossings will be every 13.5 feet and trains will have to yield to them as well.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

Is there any way to find out which weekends this will happen? I know about the 4 day lead time. I'm just wondering if at T-4 days it will be posted someplace.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 5:17 p.m.

MDOT will put out a notice on their websites and you can sign up for an email alert through the link I referenced at the end of my story. I write my posts from those email alerts -- and will do my best to publish a story as the closures are announced.

AA Neighbor

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

Why should private contractors determine schedules for public road repairs? Let's hope MDOT doesn't can hire the same company that did the AA-Saline Road overpass of I-94. Then we can be sure the work will be totally inadequate and need redoing in less than a year. Anyone competent in charge of this project? Who's looking out for the public interest and major concerns for safety in a stretch of highway that is over utilized for its condition and has too much truck traffic and no carrier enforcement? This is a catastrophic accident waiting to happen when MDOT or the private contractor fail to put up adequate warning signs about the total backup on a Friday night or weekend morning. Such a major undertaking needs more planning in the public forum.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

Submit a resume.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

It's going to be an annoying detour when the work happens on I-94, but I do appreciate the consideration MDOT has given to not do the work on weekends with major events or when there are lane closures on the tri-levels.

Frank Lee

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

They should be adding additional lanes and exits, not repaving an inadequate design. This 2 lane stretch of highway merges with 3 lane highway at each end and is a bottleneck by design. An additional north/south exit should be added to relieve the congestion at the State Street exit. Platt Road would be an ideal location for this exit.

Ann English

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 12:23 a.m.

Fjord is right; some of the bridges already crossing over four-lane I-94 are too short for spanning a six-lane I-94 stretch. I can see a Platt Road exit going in before a six-lane stretch of I-94 does; there's a house very close to the Platt Road bridge, and the resident raised a hullabaloo when the old bridge was razed in order for a higher bridge to be put in. But the house still stands, well below the height of the new bridge. It isn't blight, either.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 6:33 p.m.

It'd be great, but it'd also be a huge project. I suspect that there a number of bridges and overpasses that are currently unable to accommodate three lanes on each side. Those will have to be dealt with (and paid for) first, then widening of the road bed, then construction ... I really hope it happens someday, but it's a lot more complicated than just adding extra lanes.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

Frank That would make too much sense! But wouldn't that be great?


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

Frank, I am so with you on this one. This stretch of road has needed to be widened for the past 20 years. Making it three lanes out at 94 and 14 makes sense, but it should be three lanes from there to metro airport.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 12:03 p.m.

SWEET can't wait to drive on Ellsworth or State during these weekends for the I-94 work while the round about is also under construction this summer!!!!!


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

delay 'em all like the legislature would like to do, then no interuptions

Jim Osborn

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

I watched them do this on I-94 about 8 to 10 years ago when I lived just south of it on the other side of the Briarwood Mall. Very impressive. They did 1/2 of a lane at a time one right after the other, about as fast as an old person could walk. They did one lane from Ann Arbor Saline to US-23 over night. It took about 14 individual vehicles working as a unit to do so, but the dump trucks were replaced on a regular basis, and the asphalt pavers were resupplied. How I wish that all of our roadwork was done this quickly, instead of taking months. Remember Miller Road last summer? Or Packard?


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

I94 doesn't involve h20 mains or storm drains or house connections or curbs or new base under the pavement as did Miller / Packard.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

It goes a lot faster when you're not also dealing with water mains beneath the roadway.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 11:36 a.m.

"Ideally we want to make sure we're putting down quality work," Sweeney said." I find that "ideally" a bit disturbing. Maybe not enough "ideally" helps explain why our roads don't seem to last as long as many of us wish.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

My concern stands. By using the word it implies we get something less than ideal at times. In the case of light rain versus downpour at some point somebody decides when that tipping point is reached and you shut down and send people away. ideally they weigh all the factors and ideally make the right choice for.....?

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 1 p.m.

Sweeney was talking about the ability of crews to work in the rain when he said that. Poor visibility, in addition to soft ground, would prevent them from doing quality work.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 10:53 a.m.

Tri-levels?? I have worked on that section of m-14 for 30 years and they were always referred to as the "triples". East or west


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

I stand corrected EyeheartA2 You are correct!


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

Triple Deckers is what I always heard.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

I only remember hearing them called the East or West Tri-levels


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 10:33 a.m.

It's up to the contractor to determine the schedule, Sweeney said. This seems a little strange.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

In this case, MDOT will be giving the contractor a list of weekends when the work can't happen as a part of the contract. It's then up to the contractor to decide which weekends -weather permitting - will allow them to get their job done by mid-November. The final decision to close a direction of traffic on I-94 will likely come four days before the event.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 10:28 a.m.

The photo I believe is looking west at an eastbound backup.

Kyle Mattson

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 4:59 p.m.

You are correct jcj.

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

the overpass is correct, but looking west.