Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Interstate 696

One of my favorite stretches of expressway in Michigan is I-696. Not because it's a particularly pleasant chunk of freeway to drive on because usually it isn't. More because it is in a trench and for 15 minutes or so, I can become Luke Skywalker attacking the Death Star. Ben: Use the Force, Luke. Let go, Luke.
Vader: The Force is Strong in this one.
Ben: Luke, Trust me.
Sometimes my visor gets moved to the side.
Some Tech: His computer's off. Luke, you switched off your targeting computer, what's wrong?
Luke: Nothing, I'm alright.

I-696 has a pretty colorful history. It is named after one of the major figures from the early days of the UAW. It is a spur of I-96 that looks like it wants to circle the city of Detroit like other spur routes around other major cities but it doesn't. It only covers the northern suburbs of Detroit.

Construction was started in the mid 50's as part of the original Interstate Freeway act and was completed on the portion that goes from I-275 in Novi to the Lodge Freeway in Southfield (this part actually looks like a traditional freeway without the walls). The other portion from I-75 in Royal Oak to I-94 in St. Clair shores was completed in 1979. The rest was completed in 1989 (I actually remember reading this in the Free Press although I didn't really know where it was at the time). Between 1979 and 1989, M-6 was used because lawsuits kept delaying that portion of the freeway and for a while it seemed that is portion would never be completed.

Finally, the lawsuits were settled and I-696 became a continguous freeway and if you look at it on a map, you can probably guess some of the places where they had issues because there are a few twists and turns. There are also places that go through tunnels of sorts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good ol' 696 Motor Speedway