248 HSL Works During Construction of Reuther Freeway in Michigan

May 15, 2024

NOTE: Original article written by Kayla Kirsten, C.A. Hull featured in CAM Magazine, May 2024 – Vol. 45 – No. 65

Restoring the Reuther (Interstate 696)
The recent I-696 restoration project is part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Rebuilding Michigan” program, which focuses on reconstructing state highways and bridges that are critical to the state’s economy and carry the most traffic. Based on economic modeling, this investment is expected to directly and indirectly support 3,328 jobs, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). Encompassing 12 projects across the state, the program allows MDOT to sell a total of $3.5 billion in bonds to finance new and modified road construction projects including the Reuther, while accelerating many others.

In 2022, MDOT released a bid on a two-year reconstruction project involving nine miles of I-696 from I-275 to Lahser Road in Oakland County. The bid, as listed, involved nine miles of roadway reconstruction and nine bridges along the route through Farmington Hills and Southfield. The contract was awarded to Dan’s Excavating, Shelby Township, for $282 million. With the scope of work requiring substantial road and bridge work, Ajax Paving, Troy, was added as a subcontractor as well as bridge contractor C.A. Hull, Commerce Township.

As an important route for commuter, commercial, and tourism, the specified corridor carries 190,000 vehicles per day and utilizes four lanes of traffic in each direction, equating to 72 lane miles of construction. The construction team credits contractor coordination, communication, and mobilization as key
to ensuring minimal impact to the motoring public. The benefit of performing a full reconstruction will be that this corridor will remain safe and uninterrupted by construction for decades.

Dan’s Excavating, Ajax Paving, and C.A. Hull bring to the Reuther project a long history of working together, having completed many large-scale projects over the years. “A strong relationship between the major contractors is a major factor for success on a project of this size,” said Eric Rau, Project Manager for Dan’s Excavating. “We are very fortunate to have such a reliable team of experienced contractors working with us.” Rau explained that open communication regarding where crews are working, construction haul routes, and restricted areas are imperative to not only the safety of workers, but also to job productivity and the overall schedule.

Understanding Project Scope
This project is extensive. The entire 1-696 reconstruction from 1-275 to Lahser Road requires concrete reconstruction, concrete
curb and gutter replacement, sidewalk and sidewalk ramp repair, guardrail repair, new signage, and pavement markings. As the prime contractor, Dan’s Excavating is self-performing approximately nine miles of concrete removal and reconstruction. Culvert replacements, sewer, drainage, steel H-piling, steel sheet piling, and cofferdams are involved in the reconstruction process, which also includes channel excavation and riprap placement. Riprap placement refers to the process of installing large rocks or other materials along slopes or embankments to prevent erosion and stabilize the area.

This complex, multi-year project consists of a large volume of work. “From pavement removal, earth excavation, sewer installation, and grading to construction of seven new box culverts and two pile-supported arch culverts, this project had most everything we look for in a project,” explained Rau. Dan’s will also be performing work to ITS (Intelligent Transportation System) upgrades, freeway lighting, and median barrier wall.

The work performed by Dan’s Excavating has been critical to achieving proper road grade and proposed elevation in order for Ajax Paving to follow up with paving the new interstate roadway and accommodating ramps.

As another critical subcontractor, Ajax is responsible for the concrete reconstruction of the new 1-696 roadway. This involves multiple on and off ramps and the complete resurfacing of mainline 1-696 from 1-275 to Lahser Road, with a two-year surface warranty that ensures the condition of the new roadway following traffic restoration.

As the sole bridge contractor on the project, C.A. Hull is self-performing work to nine structures along the interstate. The demolition and reconstruction of two bridges over the Rouge River was required, while the remaining seven bridges required both substructure and superstructure rehabilitation work. This construction began in the spring of 2023, with project teams working through the winter months. All work on this project is on track for 2025 completion.