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WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — Drivers, beware: After weather delays, work on a portion of I-96 in Walker is finally underway, leading to closures and detours.
The eastbound lanes between Alpine and Plainfield avenues officially shut down early Friday morning. The ramps from northbound and southbound US-131 to eastbound I-96 are also closed.
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The Michigan Department of Transportation plans to repave the road as well as repair bridges in the closure area.
The project is expected to last through mid-June and then MDOT will close the westbound lanes to do the same work on that side.
Drivers will be detoured to southbound US-131 and eastbound I-196 to get around the closure. Commuters who normally travel that route should be prepared for delays because of the added traffic.
TRUCKING: SHORT-TERM SETBACK, LONG-TERM GAIN
While the project will likely be a major headache for drivers during rush hour, trucking companies that travel the route dozens of times every day could be impacted the most.
Drivers for Van’s Delivery Service in northwest Grand Rapids regularly use eastbound I-96 during their trips. The new road project and resulting detour are expected to bring with them added costs — especially because ‘time is money.’
“It’s gonna be extra mileage, extra fuel,” assistant safety director Sharon Conklin said. “It might cause (drivers) to not be able to get as much driving as needed, because (they’re) gonna be in a backup of traffic.”
Van’s Delivery Service is located on Turner Avenue, which is one of the detour routes for the project. That could also cause delays for drivers.
“It’s gonna make it difficult,” Conklin said. “It’s gonna be hard to get out.”
But despite the short-term setback, there are long-term benefits with this kind of project — especially when tires are such a big part of the company budget.
“It’s also going to create better roads later for us to help with the damage to equipment,” Conklin said. “I think in the long term, it’s gonna be good for the Grand Rapids area.”