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Two-year construction project to start on I-96/US-23 Interchange

The I-96/23 Interchange only approximates a "Thunderdome." To find the real thing, you would, of course, have to go Burning Man.
Matthew Gordon
/
Flickr
The I-96/23 Interchange only approximates a "Thunderdome." To find the real thing, you would, of course, have to go Burning Man.

The I-96/US 23 highway interchange can be like Thunderdome - two cars enter, one car leaves.

But that's about to change.

MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) is set to make what it calls "major safety and operational improvements" to how cars and trucks merge and exit the two major highway systems next month.

MDOT's Kari Arend says the project started with the need to replace bridges that were in poor condition. Now the project will include building new bridges.

The animation below shows the new "through-lanes" that will be built between the current I-96 highway lanes. Three new bridges will also be built over US 23 and Old US 23. 

Animation showing the changes coming to the I-96/US 23 Interchange.
Credit Images from MDOT / Animation by Mark Brush of Michigan Radio
/
Animation by Mark Brush of Michigan Radio
Animation showing the changes coming to the I-96/US 23 Interchange.

The current set-up can lead to some pretty hairy moments on the road as slower traffic merges and exits I-96. More from the Freep:

The interchange is noted for semi-truck rollovers and has been flagged as a caution zone by many national trucking companies ... I-96 was built during the 1960s, and MDOT officials said the current interchange isn't geared for today's higher freeway speeds.

The lanes will eliminate the need for slower traffic to merge directly onto I-96. More from MDOT:

As part of the project, the existing lanes of I-96 will become collector-distributor (CD) lanes in order to allow easier and safer lane changes for ramp traffic through the interchange. The existing six bridges over US-23 and Old US-23 will be rebuilt. All existing ramps at the interchange will remain in their current configuration. However, ramp traffic will no longer need to merge on and off I-96 since ramp traffic will be using the CD lanes, where traffic volumes and speeds will be lower.

The two-year project is expected to be completed in the Fall of 2017. 

Kari Arend of MDOT says there will be some off-peak lane closures during the construction project, the first of which will start next week as contractors begin to remove 24 acres of trees between the two lanes of I-96 at the Interchange. She says there will also be some impact to local traffic along Spencer Road.

Mark Brush was Michigan Radio’s Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
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