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Published: Saturday, 4/28/2007

Repaving set for Dundee section; rail overpass to be raised

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A U.S. 23 construction project in Monroe County, which the Michigan Department of Transportation has warned motorists about since mid January, will start next week.

Beginning Tuesday, MDOT contractor Ajax Paving will close the left lane for two miles in each direction north of M-50 in Dundee to begin widening the left shoulder in the work area, which eventually will involve about six miles of U.S. 23 between the Macon River and Plank Road in Milan.

"We'll be starting first thing in the morning," said Hal Zweng, the project engineer.

The work zone should rarely cover the entire stretch, but for most of the time between now and late October, motorists are likely to find lane closings between Dundee and Milan - especially at the railroad overpass just north of Cone Road.

Major drainage work is planned and the bridge is to be raised by 15 inches to improve truck clearance.

"The bridge has been hit quite frequently by people who were not paying attention," said John Chlipala, chief engineer for the Ann Arbor Railroad.

The bridge will be jacked up three times, five inches at a time, starting sometime after July 4, he said.

U.S. 23 will remain open during the bridge-jacking, though with just one lane in each direction because of the drainage work, Mr. Zweng said.

Ajax of Troy, Mich., is to be paid $11.7 million for the U.S. 23 improvements, which along with resurfacing and the drainage work will include rehabilitating the pump house at the railroad overpass and rehabilitating and lengthening interchange ramps at Cone and Plank roads.

Ramp traffic will be detoured, with work rotated so that consecutive ramps are not closed at the same time.

The railroad bridge raising will be done by a separate contractor to be hired by the railroad. Mr. Chlipala said that work will be done at night and scheduled to avoid conflict with the two to four trains that use the line on a typical day.

While other parts of the construction zone will move around as work progresses and may not be in place at all on the weekends, lane closings at the railroad overpass will remain for most of the construction season.

The only exceptions, Mr. Zweng said, may be for University of Michigan home football games, which are scheduled for every Saturday in September and October except Sept. 29 and Oct. 20.

"That is the plan," he said. "We expect to be far enough along [with construction] that we can open up two lanes on those weekends."

The work area is far enough north that people headed to Michigan International Speedway on race weekends shouldn't be affected by it, but Toledo-Ann Arbor commuters will have to choose among driving through the work zone, using local roads, or taking I-75, I-275, and I-94 as an alternate route.

Work began in mid March on another section of U.S. 23 north of Ann Arbor to Silver Lake, Mich. There, northbound traffic is restricted to one lane for bridge work. Paving will affect traffic at the western U.S. 23/M-14 junction near Ann Arbor this weekend and continue in the area through Memorial Day, mainly at night.

Kari Arend, an MDOT spokesman, said that project is on schedule, with the lane closings near Silver Lake expected to shift to the southbound side in June.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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