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Published: Thursday, 3/31/2005

Drivers caught by surprise as I-75 lanes close for work

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Traffic is restricted in both directions on I-75 in Monroe County for bridge deck repairs.
Traffic is restricted in both directions on I-75 in Monroe County for bridge deck repairs.
MORRISON / THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Angered by the single-lane work zone that has backed up traffic for miles on I-75 in Monroe County this week?

The Michigan Department of Transportation says, "We're sorry," for not getting the word out.

For most of the next four months, bridge deck repairs in Erie Township and near Monroe are to close one of three lanes in each direction on the busy expressway between Toledo and Detroit.

But this week, the three lanes have narrowed to just one between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. while crews set up the new traffic patterns. Under those patterns, one lane will shift onto the shoulder to allow two mainline lanes to be worked on.

That was a rude surprise yesterday for Randy Harris, a Toledo resident who blamed the resulting big backup for his missing a flight at Detroit Metropolitan-Wayne County Airport.

"These people [MDOT] have an absolute 'I don't give a damn' attitude about the public," he fumed as he sat in traffic north of Monroe just after noon.

Bill Schreck, MDOT's regional spokesman, gave a mea culpa yesterday for not getting the word out. While an MDOT summary issued yesterday described the work planned as part of the project, the agency had issued no advisory that work was starting or that it would shut down two of the three lanes during midday hours.

The project actually was to have started earlier but was delayed by weather, Mr. Schreck said.

Asked yesterday when the department planned to tell motorists that the work had begun, he said: "I probably should have done it already. [The contractor] moved it back, and I think I miscalculated the start date. We apologize for that."

Further complicating matters was the fact that a storm drain in the southbound shoulder being used for traffic started collapsing on Monday, which required an emergency lane closing that continued into Tuesday until repairs were made.

The work being done this week can't be done at night, when traffic is lighter, because stripe painting is involved, and it would be too difficult for the workers to see what they were doing, Mr. Schreck said.

Once the full-time traffic pattern is set up, two lanes of traffic will be maintained in both directions at the bridges until August, the spokesman said.

After that, Mr. Schreck said, concrete pavement and joint repairs will require varying lane closings, including two-lane closings on weekends, on the southbound side between Monroe and the Ohio border until mid-November.

Similar repairs were made on the northbound side in the same area last summer and fall.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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