Thousands gather for I-96 walk
By Casey Samyn
Campus life editor
Sunday, Sept. 21 was family fun day on the westbound side of the newly constructed I-96 freeway. The freeway opened at 5 a.m. on Sept. 22 between Newburgh and Telegraph Road 2014 after being closed completely for seven miles. The project not only redid the freeway itself, but 37 bridges over the freeway as well.
Citizens from surrounding areas gathered to be let in at the exit ramp just west of Levan Road in Livonia.
Not only did pedestrians show up for the trek, but so did several attractions, one being the Livonia Stevenson High School marching band who played against their biggest rival, the Livonia Churchill marching band. Both bands marched down the ramp, exciting the crowd. Other participants dressed up as fictional and non-fiction characters.
One such person likened himself to Abraham Lincoln, and when asked why, he said, “That’s just how I dress.”
The section of the freeway available to pedestrians was only between Stark and Newburgh, which is seven miles long. The freeway has never been open to the public like that since it was first opened 40 years ago.
Officials predicted beforehand that the turnout would be about 1,000 people. However, roughly 10,000 people showed up for the event.
“I really enjoyed it; it was super crowed, but we biked from one end to the other, and at the ends it was pretty clear. I had fun walking along the cement wall too. And the kids loved decorating the wall with chalk,” said Susanna Taylor, 2011 graduate of Schoolcraft. “The freeway closure didn’t affect me much, but it added about 15 minutes to Nathan’s [her brother] and Bethany’s [her sister] drive time to school.”
Many pedestrians agreed that the overall look of the freeway is a huge improvement, but were ready for the reopening.
Locals are now able to make their normal daily commute Monday morning after being closed since early April, 2014. It has taken freeway goers up to an extra hour to get to work by taking alternative routes. Although it has been a rough couple months taking different daily routes, residents agree that the wait was well worth it, as the highway is better than ever.