DETROIT -- Metro Detroit drivers will face yet another challenge during their morning and afternoon commutes.
Southbound I-75, between Detroit and the Downriver city of Southgate, officially closed Saturday, and construction is expected to last two years.
During the closure, the Michigan Department of Transportation will be conducting work on several bridges on both sides of the interstate.
MDOT said Tuesday's commute went relatively hitch-free, with no accidents or major issues reported. However, southbound traffic is expected to back up at a handful of intersections as a result of detoured traffic bypassing the I-75 construction.
Flat Rock Police have reportedly expressed "serious" concerns about impacts on Telegraph Rd. traffic due to the planned closing, particularly near Gibraltar Rd. -- north of the Monroe County line.
Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, meanwhile, is not anticipating the increase in traffic will cause any major issue with response times. However, hospital officials are prepared to treat a new kind of condition: Road Weary Warrior Syndrome.
According to The News-Herald, the hospital’s initial treatment plan for visitors and employees consists of comfort stations, which opened Monday, the first workday of the closure.
"The construction is sure to present some challenges," Denise Brooks-Williams, Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital president and CEO, told The News-Herald. “It’s one of those things we have to adjust to and just get through."
The southbound I-75 shutdown is part of a $200 million project that includes rebuilding the shoddy bridge deck on the Rouge River bridge, along with other bridge repairs and replacements.
MDOT spokeswoman Diane Cross said the evening commute is likely to be much more challenging for drivers, and she warned motorists to expect delays.
"It takes a couple of weeks of taking different routes for detours for drivers to figure out which ones work best," Cross told the Detroit Free Press. "And then we kind of settle into a pattern, and that pattern is probably going to stay the same for a couple of years."
A semi fire on I-94 in Detroit likely slowed down drivers who may have wanted to avoid the shutdown by taking that freeway to the official posted detour, which follows I-96 and I-275. Another incident with a semi, a crash on I-75 near I-96, also slowed down northbound I-75 traffic.
MDOT's official detour for through traffic takes drivers off I-75 at I-96, heads west to I-275 and then south back to I-75. It’s a lengthy detour, but MDOT said it opted not to send thousands of extra vehicles onto a shorter detour using I-94 because that freeway is already jammed with traffic as is, while I-96 is wider and has had sections rebuilt, giving it more capacity for extra vehicles.
"We fully realize the distance that is, and a lot of drivers won’t do that," Cross said.
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