Northbound I-475 to remain closed until summer

Published: Dec. 16, 2019 at 12:20 PM EST
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(12/16/2019) - After months of debate, the Michigan Department of Transportation decided to keep northbound I-475 closed until next summer.

They began work on the project in August, shutting down the freeway to all travel. Months later, it still sits unpaved. Sadly, it won't be changing anytime soon, as I-475 will remain closed and work will remain stagnant.

For many drivers it has been a daily headache as they try to navigate around it.

It's already been six long months of lengthy detours around I-475 and it will be at least another six months before the busy stretch of freeway reopens.

"We were getting basically everything ready to have pavement placed in late October, early November," said Steve Katenhus, a manager for MDOT's Davison Transportation Service Center. "Then we hit some cold stretch in there, where we weren't able to pave."

MDOT engineers say they debated on the best route to take before deciding it was better to be safe than be sorry, because the pavement they will be laying can only be put down when surface temperatures are at least 35 degrees.

"That comes out on the street hot and if it comes out on a cold surface that prematurely cools that down before you can compact it and get the density on that material," said Katenhus.

That would jeopardize the entire project, leaving MDOT not only in the hole millions of dollars but also tack on another few months to the project completion date.

"An additional cost to our consumers and we want to be the best stewards of our taxpayers' dollars," said Katenhus. "If we place it at these temperatures that are outside our specifications then we put that at risk and we weren't willing to do so."

MDOT hopes, weather permitting, to start construction in mid-May and reopen northbound I-475 in July.