By utilizing two different delivery methods, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is on track to complete the Interstate 75 Modernization Project 10 years ahead of schedule.
This portion of I-75 currently carries up to 174,000 vehicles per day, which includes residents, commuters, carpoolers, local businesses, intrastate and interstate commercial vehicles, and tourists. Since this freeway was originally built in the 1960s and has never been rebuilt, modernization is greatly needed. The addition of the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane will help ease the increasing congestion. Improving this aging segment of freeway infrastructure will increase safety and provide an improved driving surface and experience. Projections show traffic increasing to 193,000 vehicles per day by 2035.
A Two-Decade Endeavor
The I-75 widening and reconstruction project has been in the planning and development stages for nearly 20 years. It encompasses approximately 18 miles of freeway from M-102 to south of M-59. The need for increased capacity is driven by the growth along the corridor due to land use changes and the migration of people, services and industry. It is a critical commercial route, a key commuter route, a vital tourist route and a local area business route moving people and goods across the state daily.
Proposed corridor improvements will ease traffic congestion, meet travel demand for personal mobility and movement of freight, while allowing for future traffic and commercial needs for the entire region. It will also improve motorist safety, reliability and efficiency.
In 1991, a county corridor study projected future roadway needs, improvements and costs. This was based on the current condition, expected future growth and the use of land use planning tools to mitigate impacts, but largely in response to the rapid growth occurring along the I-75 corridor. A feasibility study identifying the corridor problems and offering broad solutions concluded in 2000. The next environmental phase of study advanced the analysis by providing detailed information regarding the impacts as a result of the proposed improvements. This study concluded in 2006 with formal federal project approval. Engineering reports to further refine the selected and approved set of improvements was completed in 2010.
Improvements include: reconstructing the freeway, adding a lane to increase capacity with a HOV lane that would operate as such, only in the peak hours of travel, bridge replacement, upgraded road design, interchange improvements at 12 Mile Road, 14 Mile Road and the Square Lake Road Business Loop, ramp enhancements at M-102 and I-696 and a new drainage system for the corridor.
Stakeholders have been engaged through the many phases of study. During the early phases, local advisory groups were established that helped guide the study. These groups were compromised of local municipalities, businesses, residents, and anyone that was affected or interested in participating. General public information meetings, targeted small group meetings, informal one-on-one meetings and a formal public hearing were all conducted. A project website, dedicated e-mail address and toll-free telephone number were also used to involve and be more accessible. As the project advances, additional opportunities and meetings will be held to collaborate on corridor features, the maintenance of traffic during construction and construction activities itself.
The current schedule to deliver the I-75 modernization is in nine segments over the next 16 years, by 2034, primarily using the more traditional Design-Bid-Build approach.
The first segment is currently under construction. MDOT’s current Initial Financial Plan estimates projected year of expenditure costs of $1.3 billion from 2016 to 2034 project delivery.
MDOT and many of its customers and key stakeholders are interested in alternative ways to deliver the project in order to accelerate completion of construction in the corridor to realize the full positive economic benefits of the infrastructure modernization a decade sooner, and to significantly reduce disruption and negative economic impact to users and communities.
Key project goals and objectives include:
After consideration of various delivery alternatives, financial analysis and consultation with the construction contracting and “developer” community, MDOT decided to advance the project using a two-part approach, with both parts running concurrently.
Part 1 is to accelerate the delivery of the northern remaining three segments (from North of 13 Mile Road to Coolidge highway) using a Design-Build contracting method. This part is funded using existing funds and will cover design and construction costs. The construction period is currently 2018 through 2020.
Part 2 is to accelerate the delivery of the remaining segments (from 8 Mile Road to North of 13 Mile Road) using a Design-Build-Finance-Maintain contracting method. This part is funded with availability payments spread out over an estimated 25- to 30-year timeframe following the initial construction, using existing program dollars in future years. These payments will cover costs for initial design and construction, as well as ongoing maintenance and long term financing costs. The currently planned construction period is 2019 through 2022.
MDOT and their contacting partners have years of experience with Design-Build contracts. Unfortunately, due to the lack of funding, the whole I-75 modernization could not be funded this way. The ability to use the Design-Build-Finance-Maintain method aids in the project schedule and gives MDOT experience in a new and exciting way to fund future construction projects.
Successful implementation of these contracting methods will require significant learning and adjustment to the department’s normal way of executing projects and providing oversight. This is especially true for the DBFM portion, where more risk and responsibility is transferred to the contractor team.
This is a great chance for MDOT to become the state’s experts at a new type of procurement and to deliver something significant to the people of Michigan who use these roads.
(At time of publication, the 2016 segment was 94 percent complete)
2017 Work Completed
2016 Work Completed
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