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Interstate 696 Descriptions


I-696 begins in the west near the city of Novi as a left exit branching off of I-96 as a portion of the I-96/I-696/I-275/M-5 interchange, the largest freeway interchange in the world. It collects traffic from northbound I-275 as it treks east through Farmington Hills and Southfield on its way to the "Mixing Bowl", where it encounters M-10 and Telegraph Rd. at the former temporary end as another complicated interchange. If one wishes to access U.S. 24, it can only be done via the M-10 exit. After this interchange, 11 Mile Road straddles I-696. Further east, just after the Southfield Road exit, the interstate makes an "S" shape just prior to the Greenfield Road exit and leaves 11 Mile Road. After Greenfield Road, 10 Mile Road then straddles the freeway and continues east to M-1 and I-75. After a four-level stack interchange with I-75, I-696 jogs northeast, leaving 10 Mile Road and again is straddled by 11 Mile Road. The freeway then encounters Mound Road in another stack (in anticipation of the construction of the southern "missing link" of the M-53 Freeway), making a slight bend to the south. Its last exit is M-3 just west of the eastern terminus at I-94 in Macomb County. The road continues going due east over I-94 as 11 Mile Road to Jefferson Avenue, St. Clair Shores, and Lake St.Clair.

The segment of the Reuther located between the "Mixing Bowl" and I-75 is known for its extensive use of retaining walls and three large landscaped caps forming short tunnels for freeway traffic. The caps were constructed as plazas with respect to the local Orthodox Jewish communities in need of the most direct route to weekly temple services, which the freeway's route as originally planned was seen to interrupt. Negotiations related to the plazas were the primary reason the completion of this section of the Reuther was delayed until 1989. As a consequence of those beautification features, explosive flammable cargoes are banned on that segment.

I-696's western terminus is also the northern terminus of I-275, making this junction one of the few points that is the terminus of two three-digit Interstate Highways with different parents.


Prior to the opening of the central portion of I-696 in the late 1980s, eastbound traffic in Southfield was routed to southbound M-10 near the Telegraph Rd. exit (now Exit 8). The once-abandoned portion of I-696 appears to the left.I-696 is part of the original Interstate Highway System as outlined in 1956-58. The first portion built was the western third of the completed freeway, from the western junction with I-96 in Novi east to the Lodge Freeway in Southfield, which opened in 1963-1964. The eastern third between I-75 in Royal Oak and I-94 in St. Clair Shores was completed in early 1979, followed by the middle portion between Telegraph Road and I-75 in December 1989. I-696 is a full freeway along its entire length.

For a short time in the 1970s, M-6 was used in place of the routing for the segment under construction east of I-75. It was unclear whether the lawsuits would force the center segment to be canceled, which would have left the I-696 freeway discontiguous. M-6 signs were erected on both the frontage roads and the divided road of 11 Mile at Mound Road.

Construction of the Reuther took much longer than expected and went over budget. The major contributors to this were the Pleasant Ridge and Detroit Zoo lawsuits to stop construction of the freeway. Another was the fact that the eastern end of the Reuther ran through built-up neighborhoods, many of which were less than 10–15 years in age. In fact, some of the neighborhoods in the Hoover and Van Dyke area were under construction at the same time as the I-696 project which led to confrontations between the two construction projects, costing freeway developers more than anticipated to purchase the land.

As part of the overall rehabilitation to the "Mixing Bowl" interchange (where the freeway crosses both US-24 and M-10 in Southfield), a new partial interchange at Franklin Road was constructed. An exit ramp from I-696 eastbound to American Drive opened in April 2006. An entrance ramp from Franklin Road to I-696 westbound opened in July 2006. The Franklin Road overpass, which had been closed during this time, re-opened in October 2006.

St. Clair Shores mayor Eugene Ellison (1961–1965) was instrumental in blocking plans to extend I-696 east of I-94 and dividing the St Clair Shores neighborhoods.


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