A major construction project is getting underway this week in Oakland County. The Interstate 96 Flex Route project is so massive, it will take two years to complete.

The construction won't actually start until Monday, March 21. However, starting today you can expect shoulder closures on both eastbound and westbound I-96 between Kent Lake Road and I-275/I-696/M-5. This will allow for crews to remove trees and brush along the roadways.

Will the Freeway Remain Open?

Yes, the freeway will remain open but the Michigan Department of Transportation highly suggests that commuters use local roads instead. With lane and ramp closures, you can expect major delays from time to time. Ramp closures include Kent Lake, Milford and Wixom road ramps. Those ramps won't be closed for two years but they will be closed for roughly six months.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the Flex Route traffic management system consists of opening existing shoulders during high traffic volume and ramp metering. It's a little confusing but basically there will be ramp metering at 8 ramps with variable speed advisories and travel info that will be posted on electronic message boards. The rebuilt median shoulders will used as additional lanes that will be used mainly during peak hours, special events, and when there's traffic incidents.

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Drivers on social media were saying that MDOT should focus on roadways that really need improvements and that this stretch of freeway is fine the way that it is. MDOT feels this will be a major traffic improvement.

Diane Cross, MDOT:

This Flex Route will relieve the daily directional congestion problem by utilizing our existing infrastructure versus expanding/widening the roadway which would add many millions in extra costs. Instead we are taking advantage of wide median shoulders and using them as a Flex lane during peak hours. Flex lane still technically considered a shoulder so it cannot be used as a full-time lane.

They admit, it's going to be a bit of a learning curve for some drivers but instructional videos are available at drivingoakland.com.

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