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New law aimed at protecting construction workers bringing Southfield Freeway down to one lane

Posted at 6:06 AM, Jun 19, 2024

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — It has been a construction nightmare on our roads lately. As soon as you dodge one set of orange barrels, another set pops up.

That includes work on the Southfield Freeway in Dearborn, which at one point only had one lane of traffic closed. But a new law, aimed at saving lives is bringing the Southfield freeway down to one lane.

Asya Turner says she uses the Southfield Freeway just about every day.

"Hell," Turner said when asked what the Southfield Freeway construction has been like for her. “Work, church, pick up my son and drop him off.”

She says the work on the Freeway has really slowed her down, especially in the northbound lanes, where there is only one lane open from I-94 to Ford.

“Originally we had two lanes open northbound and then it went down to one lane, have you noticed a difference there?” I asked Turner.

"Yes, yes, I have," Turner responded. "Especially right there coming up on the Southfield Freeway by Outer Drive, it’s backed up every single day from about 8am up until about 7:00pm.”

“I gotta hit my breaks all the time, I like to keep going," said Justin Jennings, who works Downriver.

A new law on the books in Michigan is bringing the Southfield Freeway down to one lane northbound.

Jeff Horne works for MDOT

“You have to either close it down completely, or you have you have to provide positive separation between the motoring public and the contractors, and positive separation would be temporary concrete barrier walls," said the projects and contracts engineer.

Problem is, there is not enough shoulder room to add a concrete barrier wall for crews to work on the Southfield Freeway overnight. So MDOT is warning drivers to anticipate the freeway being down to one lane in both directions, depending on the work, until the late summer or early fall.

“No more working at night time with barrels, you know you get a lot of drunks on the road and bad things happens," Horne said.

Bad things have certainly happened. For example, in 2020,two construction workers were killed by a drunk driver. Nicholas Sada and Dayvon Rose, both just 23, were killed. They were working on the roads overnight.

VIDEO: 2 construction workers hit, killed in traffic crash in Ypsilanti Township

2 construction workers hit, killed in traffic crash in Ypsilanti Township

“This law would have prevented that because the workers would have been safe behind a barrier wall," Horne said.

Leslie Kellogg, a Dearborn native, is all for the law, especially since her father used to work in construction.

“Well construction can be very dangerous particularly on a freeway, anything they do to protect them, so that they are safe while they are doing there job, I am supportive of," Kellogg said.

MDOT is in the process of laying down asphalt in the area, to create a smoother drive and get rid of potholes