(WXYZ) — Construction work on the I-96 Flex Route project has commenced between Kent Lake Road and the I-275/M-5/I-696 interchange in Oakland County.
The goal is to rebuild the freeway, median shoulders and upgrade signs, as well as install an active traffic management system.
The $270 million project is part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Rebuilding Michigan campaign.
Even though it's well intended in the long run, drivers like Jessica Anker were a bit frustrated with the current situation.
"The traffic is kind of insane right now and it's making people drive really bad right now," Anker said.
Meanwhile, other motorists like Meghna Haku are using alternate routes, which means extended commute times.
"I don’t mind this inconvenience for the better," Haku said. "Because Rome wasn’t built in a day."
Brian Travis from the Michigan Department of Transportation says construction will take place in stages.
For the next two months, drivers will see single lane closures on I-96 between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. The goal will be to enhance the shoulder and median for the next phase.
"We will start this year by reconstructing eastbound I-96 between Kent Lake Road and Wixom Road. The following year, eastbound between Wixom Road and 275. And the final year, we will do westbound 275 to Kent Lake Road," MDOT construction engineer Brian Travis said.
This is the second flex route in Michigan. The first one was installed back in 2017 on US-23, north of Ann Arbor from M-14 to M-36 in Washtenaw and Livingston counties.
Once complete, the I-96 Flex Route will increase capacity, open the shoulder lane to traffic during peak times and electronic message boards will post speed advisories and traveler information. It's all in a bid to enhance overall safety.
"We hopefully won't have daily backups where people are hitting their brake causing rear-end crashes. We will have a bit more capacity, we will also have people to pull off. We will have seven emergency areas," Travis said.
The heavy construction phase is set to start toward the end of May, which will result in several ramps closures along I-96. If you use the I-96 corridor frequently, MDOT recommends checking its social media platforms as well as visiting drivingoakland.com for daily updates.