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      MDOT addresses concerns about I-75 widening project

      Mid-Michigan travelers may notice less traffic and congestion on I-75 after MDOT completes a proposed expansion project in Saginaw County. The department looked for public input Wednesday about the possible re-construction of the freeway.

      The I-75 project area comprises 5.4 miles that stretch from Dixie Highway north to the south junction of I-675 and extends through Buena Vista and Bridgeport townships. Work includes reconstructing the existing freeway and adding one lane in each direction.

      MDOT spokeswoman Anita Richardson said, "We want to ease congestion on this vital gateway north.??

      While that??s a welcome idea, some residents living along the freeway are concerned their trees will be razed during construction.

      "I like looking out and seeing trees and not highway traffic,?? Maxine Harris said.

      Harris says she loves the natural barrier they provide, shielding the dust and noise. MDOT engineers plan to preserve as much as they can, without compromising driver safety.

      "We have to maintain the safety of the freeway, so that people don't run into those trees, because that's a serious hazard, too,?? Ian Weibel, MDOT Bay Region design engineer, said.

      Most of the reconstruction is within MDOT??s existing right of way.

      "We're going to have minor right-of-way takes at the wetland area to facilitate proper drainage,?? Weibel explained, pointing to the area north of Tatham Road. MDOT will enclose ditches that run too close the road.

      The project will likely to cause some minor headaches and detours and could take two construction seasons. But some Saginaw County residents say reducing traffic with minimal impact to their land is a pretty good deal.

      ??Even if I've got all this traffic going by all the time, I feel like I'm a country girl," said Harris, who doesn??t plan to move any time soon.

      The project will cost up to an estimated $45 million. The design will go out for bidding this fall, with the completion slated for 2015.