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Interchange Index

I-96, I-275, I-696, and M-5
Farmington, MI

Overhead Picture
Overhead Picture from terraserver-usa.com

Overview: This interchange is one of many in the Detroit area which garner a little interest. I-96, coming from Lansing and Brighton, enters from the northwest and leaves in a southerly direction. To the south, it is also multiplexed with I-275; this was the result of a former proposal to extend I-275 northward to rejoin I-75 and form a complete western bypass of Detroit. Going directly east fron this point is I-696, which travels across the northern side of the Detroit area and ends at I-94 some 27 miles later. Michigan State Route 5 also travels through here; it truns from near downtown Detroit northwest to Farmington, and then runs on a freeway alignment around the south side of that town. The highway to the north is also part of M-5, although it is only a freeway for one more interchange before becoming an expressway with at-grade intersections. I believe a northward extension is planned for this highway in the near future.

Interchange Description: Five-way interchanges are always fun, and this is no exception. I think the easiest way to look at this one is to simply look at the choices a driver is faced with as he enters on each of the five roadways.
From I-96 EB: Entering the interchange from the west, the first split is pretty major. Here, traffic going to I-696 and M-5 eastbound exits left, while through traffic on I-96 and traffic for the M-5 connector keeps right. Shortly afterwards, a loop ramp for the M-5 connector leaves the far right side. The left branch of the original split is later divided between I-696 (to the left) and M-5 (on the right) in a basic directional Y-interchange.
From I-96 WB/I-275 NB: Notice that I-275 and I-96 enter the interchange as a pair of parallel carriageways, and not as a simgle roadway. The split between these two occurs quite a good distance to the south. The left side is the I-96 mainline, which curves through the entire interchange without any exits or entrances until it meets I-696. The right side is a ramp which has exits for M-5 east and I-696 east before an entrance from I-696. If/when I-275 is extended to the north, to rejoin I-75 in Clarkston, this right half of the carriageway will become the I-275 mainline; however, at the moment, I-275 NB ends just south of this interchange. The next exit is for the partial cloverleaf at 12 Mile Road to the north; more on this later.
From M-5 WB: Again, there is a major split before entering the interchange. This time, the right fork splits between I-696 EB and I-275/M-5 connector NB, and the left fork leads to I-96 WB and a cloverleaf loop to access I-96 EB/I-275 SB.
From I-696 WB: At the najor fork in the westbound lanes of I-696, the only traffic that exits left is that bound for I-96 WB. This probably constitutes the majority of traffic traveling west on I-696. The remainder of the traffic exits right, and then has the choice of exiting first for the M-5 connector north, second on a loop ramp for M-5 east, or continuing straight ahead to join the eastbound lanes of I-96 and the southbound lanes of I-275.
From the M-5 connector SB: First, notice the collector-distributor road for the 12 Mile Road interchange; traffic can exit onto this road from a point just north of the satellite photo's coverage. The first ramp, a right exit to I-96 west, leaves from this C/D road before it rejoins the M-5 mainline. The mainline then splits, with the right half of the traffic going to I-275/I-96 south/east and the remainder going to M-5 east. Traffic bound for I-696 east can take the ramp to M-5 east, and then use a loop ramp to exit to I-696.
The 12 Mile Road interchange: The interchange at the intersection of the M-5 connnector and 12 Mile Road, just north of the bulk of the junction, is, at first glance, a fairly straightforward 6-ramp partial cloverleaf. However, there are a couple of items that warrant particular notice. First, there are collector-distributor roads on the M-5 connector; these are rare in a 6-ramp interchange, because there is no weaving on the mainline; all of the entrances occur after all of the exits. These C/D lanes are really present more to help traffic from the I-96/I-696 junction get through the interchange without great amounts of weaving on the mainline of the M-5 connector. Second, take a look at the small ponds in the NE and SW quadrants of the interchange, and then look right around the edges of them. With a little imagination, I can discern the former route of the 'missing' cloverleaf ramps around these ponds. I don't know if this was once a full cloverleaf, or my imagination is just running wild, but it's worth noticing.

History: This interchange was built in a number of stages; below is a map of the interchange from terraserver-usa.com to illustrate. This was taken right from a USGS quadrangle. At the time the map was first published, there was simply a fully directional split between I-96/I-696 and M-5. (Interestingly enough, M-5 is shown as State Route 102; that must have been changed somewhere along the line.) This is shown in red. Later, the connections to I-96 south and I-275 were added; these are in purple. hhe M-5 connector was added last; this isn't shown on the map, as it occured fairly recently.

Map of I-96/I-275/I-696/M-5

Comments: It's a complete 5-way interchange, with no connections missing. That in itself is remarkable and pretty rare. All of the ramps for major connections (I-96 <-> I-275, I-96 <-> M-5, I-96 <-> I-696, I-696 <-> I-275, I-275 <-> M-5 connector, and M-5 connector <-> M-5 mainline) are well-built, with no loop ramps and wide radii of curvature. There's a little weaving, but that's virtually unavoidable. All things considered, I'd say that this interchange is very well-designed for the situation.


Links
  • I-696 at kurumi.com
  • I-275 at kurumi.com
  • I-96 at michiganhighways.org
  • M-5 at michiganhighways.org
  • I-275 at michiganhighways.org
  • I-696 at michiganhighways.org


Corrections? Suggestions? More information is always welcome.
Suggestions for more interchanges to cover on this site are great too.
Contact the author, Dan (known as DanTheMan on misc.transport.road):
twowheel@email.com