‘A traffic nightmare:’ Lengthy delays expected during Sashabaw work

Cliff Rhodes, left, of Dan’s Excavating, and Moh Abdalrahnan, of the RCOC, discuss the Sashabaw Road construction project with local business owners and homeowners, April 16. Photo by Matt Mackinder

BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer

Heading to DTE Energy Music Theater this summer for an evening concert? Better plan on getting home well after midnight.
As the Road Commission for Oakland County began construction on Sashabaw Road, from I-75 to just south of Clarkston Road in Independence Twp., on Monday, April 22, commuters have been warned to expect delays and to seek alternate routes during the construction, which is expected to last until the beginning of October.
“It is going to be a traffic nightmare on Sashabaw while this goes on,” said Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle at a meeting with business owners and property owners, April 16. “It’s going to get really scary moving forward when we start experiencing some of the backups on I-75 on concert nights, and as we start moving lanes and people aren’t used to all the jockeying around and the normal slowdowns that occur with that.
Kittle added that with more than 50 concerts coming to DTE Energy Music Theater, and approximately 40 already sold-out, “it will be hectic here on concert nights.”
The majority of the approximately $4.8 million-dollar project is funded by the township. The remainder is funded by RCOC and Oakland County general government (through the Tri-Party Program).
The five-stage project (stage one was the sanitary work done last fall) includes reconstruction and widening Sashabaw Road to five lanes from I-75 to just south of Clarkston Road. The reconstructed road will include two through lanes in each direction as well as a continuous center left-turn lane and right-turn lanes where warranted. Other items include traffic signal modifications, installation of new water main leads, drainage improvements, and installation of Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalks and crosswalks.
Kittle also mentioned one part of the area that will be unaffected by the project.
“And then we have our historic well that one of our good friends found here,” said Kittle. “We will be maintaining that as a historic well in some way, shape or form through some creative financing and probably from some help through our local community.”
Cliff Rhodes attended the April 16 meeting on behalf of the general contractor for the project, Dan’s Excavating of Shelby Township, and was joined by the RCOC’s Moh Abdalrahnan, project engineer for the Sashabaw project.
“During construction season, we’ll maintain two-way traffic northbound and southbound and will maintain access for all the local residents and all the businesses,” said Abdalrahnan. “Nothing will be closed or shut down totally. We know there’s going to be inconvenience, but we appreciate your patience and will work with you.”
Rhodes, who noted that the target completion date for the project is Oct. 4, also apologized ahead of time for the impending traffic delays.
“We’ll have a supervisor on site that will be in contact with the businesses and the homeowners to coordinate your driveways – we will not shut down your driveway,” Rhodes said. “We understand you have a business and need to make money. We may limit the amount of cars that come through, though. Before, it may have been four; now, it will be two. There will be a little dust, a little dirt, some mud.”
During concert season, work will start at 6 a.m. and run until 4 p.m. on concert nights. Non-concert nights will see work start at 6 a.m. and end at 6 p.m.
“We want to get out of the way and let the concerts happen,” Rhodes said. “We’ll see how traffic is on those nights and we may even shut down at 3 p.m.”
It was also noted that while the estimated time to leave DTE after a concert is about 90 minutes, concertgoers can expect that to possibly double this summer.
Work on the project will eventually run six days a week, Monday through Saturday.