THURSDAY, Jan. 13 — A massive rebuilding of I496 near downtown Lansing will require a two-mile stretch of the highway to be closed off in both directions for about six months beginning early this summer, according to officials from the Michigan Department of Transportation.
The two-year project — fueled by about $82 million in state funding through Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Rebuilding Michigan” program — is set to begin this summer, with all lanes of I496 between Lansing Road and the Grand River, near Larch Street, being closed altogether through November.
Traffic will be detoured primarily along Malcolm X and St. Joseph streets during the preventative maintenance work, which is also set to include repairs on 17 overpasses on I496, which will also be intermittently closed off to traffic for about the next two years.
The highway itself will also be widened during the project. The Lansing Road and M99 ramps will also be connected with a new auxiliary lane. MDOT officials said the project will also include resurfacing and sidewalk ramp upgrades along service drives before the highway work begins.
Here’s the tentative timeline that was laid out at an MDOT presentation this morning:
From June to November, I496 will be closed and traffic will be diverted to side streets. Officials estimate that most drivers will stick to St. Joseph and Malcolm X streets, though they also expect increased traffic along Saginaw Highway and other side streets during that time.
By mid-November, at least one lane of traffic will reopen in both directions while the construction efforts shift more toward a stretch of highway between Lansing Road and M99, officials said. The project is also set to include a deep stormwater sewer replacement along I496 in Lansing, which MDOT officials billed this morning as the “most challenging” portion of the reconstruction. CATA bus stops will be relocated. Pedestrian routes will be detoured a block away from I-496.
All told, the project is tentatively scheduled to be finished by November 2023 — about a year faster than it would take if MDOT decided to keep one lane of the highway open the whole time.
Afterwards, MDOT plans to repair the surface pavement on the service drives that served as a detour during the project — which will “take a pounding” over the next six months, officials said. State data showed that up to 65,000 vehicles usually drive through that stretch of highway daily.
MDOT officials also plan to assemble an 200-foot long, 18-foot tall noise barrier off westbound I496 near Grand Avenue — the only residential area of the project found to have needed one. Unfortunately for local residents, officials said the barrier won’t be built until after the road work.
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