The Labor Day weekend signifies more than the end of summer to many Macomb County residents and families. It also represents the last traditional getaway weekend of the year.
That means hundreds and hundreds of folks will be loading up the car and heading, in the vast majority of cases, to the serene surroundings of northern Michigan.
However, before they arrive at their destination, there is often a sea of orange barrels, traffic backups, and detours to navigate.
“We usually plan on a couple of more hours to get up there,” Macomb resident, Dan Getz, 55, said. “When it usually takes three hours, this weekend it takes four or five. We know this ahead of time. It’s no problem.”
But the volume of northbound travelers isn’t the only issue, according to the veteran traveler.
“The construction is the real problem each year,” Getz said. “But I’d say it’s gotten a little better over the past few years.”
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Macomb County Department of Roads (MCDOR) are trying to make the trek north as smooth as possible by lifting road project restrictions all over the state and county.
MDOT will lift these restrictions, thus increasing the flow of traffic, on 82 of the 147 projects currently under way across the state.
In Macomb County, the projects that travelers will have to contend with during the holiday weekend are the following:
- The left shoulder on I-94 will be closed for bridge work.
- I-696 has shoulder closures in both directions between Van Dyke Avenue and Groesbeck for ongoing bridge construction.
- Schoenherr is down to one lane in each direction.
- Groesbeck is down to one lane in each direction at I-696.
- Hoover Road is down to one lane in each direction at I-696.
- Bunert Road is closed.
- Gratiot is reduced to two lanes in each direction between Crocker Boulevard and Clinton River Drive.
- Gratiot southbound bridge over the Clinton River is closed for bridge replacement with a posted detour.
MCDOR says that they typically halt as many projects as possible on Friday before the Labor Day weekend and on Labor Day itself.
“It’s something we try to do for all of the holiday weekends, including Labor Day,” said Jeff Cranson, MDOT director of communications. “We want people to get out and enjoy this beautiful state as much as possible.”
Cranson added that certain projects simply can’t be stopped or halted for the weekend, such as bridge repairs, but if it can be halted, MDOT will halt it for the holiday.
“If it can be halted, we will halt it,” Cranson said. “It’s really that simple.”
Another noteworthy project that will carry on through the weekend is Harper Avenue between 13 Mile and 15 Mile Road in St. Clair Shores/Clinton Township where repaving is occurring and lane closures are in effect.
“My advice to people heading up north for the weekend is to remember it’s going to be a slow trip,” Getz said, who will be making his 25th trip north for Labor Day. “If you think it’s going to be quick, you’re going to be wrong. Have patience.”