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Michigan: Spanning the Past: The I-94 Rehabilitation Project

Project Details

2.1. Project Overview

The seven-mile project includes reconstruction of the existing roadway and the addition of continuous service drives on both sides of the road. A vital component of the project is the reconstruction of two major freeway-to-freeway, multi-level interchanges. Additional features include the reconstruction of 67 bridge structures and 6 railroad overpasses. All left-hand entrances and exits will be eliminated; adequate acceleration and deceleration lanes will be added; and the M-10 and I-75 interchanges will be redesigned. Pedestrian crossings, sidewalks and a state-of-the-art drainage system are also part of the proposed package.

Figure 1: Project limits for the I-94 Rehabilitation Project from I-96 to Conner Avenue, Detroit, Michigan.
Roadmap illustration of the Traffic Study and Project Limits for the I-94 Rehabilitation Project.

2.2. Project History and Development

Photo 1: I-94 in its early days.
Photograph from the late fifties showing a truck and single car passing in opposite directions under an overpass on the newly contructed I-94.

Development of the Detroit Industrial Expressway (DIE) began in the 1940s, with work on the project area commencing in 1947 as an extension to the DIE. I-94 as Detroit knows it today was built in five successive phases, the last of which was completed in 1958. Approximately 1,770 parcels were purchased for the I-94 project. The total project cost was $110,000,000.

Fifty years later, the pavement and bridge structures are failing, and the roadway lacks the capacity needed for the 160,000 vehicles that traverse it daily. Congestion has become a major concern: motorists' average speed is less than 30 mph during peak periods.

In order to provide the best possible solution to these concerns, MDOT has worked extensively with the City of Detroit and the greater Detroit area to develop the I-94 Rehabilitation Project from I-96 to Conner Avenue. Specifically, the DOT has held over 50 meetings with the City, over 100 public information meetings with local residents and over 30 meetings with the Interagency Coordination Committee (ICC).

2.3. Project Purpose

The purpose of the I-94 Rehabilitation Project from I-96 to Conner Avenue is twofold:

  1. To improve the capacity and condition of the existing I-94 roadway and interchanges; and
  2. To support the mobility needs of local and Interstate commerce as well as National and civil defense.

As planned, the project will also enhance local traffic circulation by separating local traffic from I-94 traffic via continuous service drives.

2.4. Project Challenges

The condition and capacity problems of the existing facility have resulted in this section of I-94 being recognized in Statewide and regional plans as the Michigan roadway section most needing action. Due to the central location of the project area and its role as a key artery to Detroit and southeast Michigan, it is crucial that, once construction begins on a particular segment, it is completed as quickly as possible to minimize the impacts to the traveling public as well as to adjacent neighborhoods and businesses.

2.5. Project Status

The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) has been completed, and the FHWA signed the Record of Decision (ROD) in 2005. MDOT has conducted a three-week VE Study and will soon have a consultant on board to complete an engineering report.

The project is on the governor's "deferred project" list for design and construction, which means that no funding is available for these activities. MDOT has approximately $10 million available for the remaining preliminary engineering activities.

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Updated: 10/27/2015
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000