Driving around Detroit, MI
November 24, 2010 9:12 AM   Subscribe

I have business in the Bloomfield Hills suburb of Detroit in a couple of weeks. Google Maps gives me two routes from the airport car rental to my destination with roughly the same travel time and a third that appears slightly longer. Which is best in terms of ease of navigation for a solo driving Detroit area newb, safe road conditions (especially if it snows), and likelihood that the travel time is accurate (i.e. not prone to massive unexpected delays)?

Here are the routes.

Option A: I-94 E to US-24/Telegraph Rd
Option B: I-94 E to M-39 N/Southfield FWY to M-10/I-696/Lansing to US-24/Telegraph Rd
Option C: I-94 W to I-275 N to 696 E to M-10 S to US-24/Telegraph Rd

I'd like to stick with what Google maps provides, but I'm open to another route if you can tell me why it's better. And if you have any other late Fall - early Winter Detroit or MI driving / travel tips please feel free to include those as well. Thanks.
posted by safetyfork to Travel & Transportation around Detroit, MI (9 answers total)
Telegraph is always a mess - not just construction but congested. There has been a lot of construction on M-39 this fall - not sure about the current state but a few weeks ago (last time I was there) the entrance ramp to 39 north from 94 was closed so you'd want to check. MDOT predicted the construction to be finished by now and 275 is often a mess - so yeah take TWF's suggestions.
posted by leslies at 9:30 AM on November 24, 2010

I'm in Michigan right now. It's warmish here for the time of year, and it probably won't be snowy when you get here. For the last few years (to the best of my knowledge) it hasn't been super-snowy and icy until late December.

There is construction along 275, so don't bother with that one. Personally I would go for Option A because I like simplicity, but TWF's suggestion also has merit. (I haven't been on Telegraph so I wouldn't know about the construction there).

When I arrived last night, traffic from the airport as far north as the Ann Arbor area was pretty heavy, and there were a couple of fender benders due to tailgating.
posted by xenophile at 9:37 AM on November 24, 2010

I'd advise against Telegraph. I'm not sure I've ever driven on that road and not been frustrated by the traffic. Route B seems the best to me (no reason to follow C and go that far east). 39 / Southfield is a divided highway for most of that stretch, so if you're not driving during rush hour, it should be moving pretty easily. I just drove north on Southfield last weekend and I don't remember there being significant construction messes, although it was a Sunday, so it's possible that they just weren't out working that day.

If it's actively snowing while you're trying to make this drive, any of the routes are likely to be terrible. If it's not, even if there was snow earlier, they're pretty good about getting the roads clear and navigable pretty quickly up here.
posted by PhatLobley at 9:59 AM on November 24, 2010

Telegraph is under construction right now. from 696 to Orchard Lake Rd (the length of where you'd like to be).
I work in Bloomfield Hills (actually at Telegraph and Square Lk), and frequently go to the airport for work.
There are tons of great and easy routes that would minimize headaches or make Telegraph just the best option - depending on your specific destination.
If it isn't too creepster I can help with a good route if you PM me (i do enjoy giving directions - being a midwestern proto-typical bro-dude).
Otherwise i'd go 94 to Southfield to Telegraph. It is an easy route, a few weeks (before january) from now is generally safe for devastating snow disaster. At worst you will have a dusting.
The real problem will be everyone else on the road. Just like everywhere.
posted by ten year lurk at 10:09 AM on November 24, 2010

Seconding The World Famous.Telegraph is always at least partially under construction, and traffic on that road is not something a newcomer to the city should have to negotiate, especially immediately after dealing with air travel in general. Option B is your best bet - I live in Birmingham, which is near Bloomfield Hills, and Mr. Adams always uses the M-39 to I-94 route to go to and from Metro Airport. Although going from Southfield Fwy (M-39) to the Lodge (M-10) to I-696 could be a wee bit confusing and congested, also (there's a reason traffic reporters refer to that area as the "Mixing Bowl"). Where is your actual Bloomfield destination? You might be better off avoiding the M-39/M-10/I-696 transition by simply staying on M-39 until the freeway ends and it turns into Southfield Road. You'd keep heading north and then turn right at 14 Mile Road. The next major road you'll hit is Woodward Avenue, which you can then take to Bloomfield Hills. This route involves about 20 minutes of surface-street driving after M-39 ends, but (depending upon your destination address) it still might be faster and less confusing than dealing with I-696.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:24 AM on November 24, 2010

Nthing the plan B/Lahser idea. The only addition I have is to be aware of the Michigan Left (turn), where you generally go past the intersection you wanted to turn left at, take the special route through the median, wait for a stop sign or light, complete the U-turn, and then turn right at the intended intersection. This is one reason why avoiding the major roads like Woodward, Telegraph, and Southfield (at least south of 14 Mile) could be an advantage, since turning left/right on a moment's notice will be much easier.

Michigan driving in that area is pretty grid-like, with cardinal directionality and one-mile-spacing between roads, and frankly (compared to California, Miami, LA, NYC) the drivers are generally as considerate as you'll find in an urban area. Don't worry too much.
posted by kcm at 11:00 AM on November 24, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the awesome insider information. I'm going with Option B and taking the route adjustment that The World Famous recommends as well.
posted by safetyfork at 12:21 PM on November 24, 2010

Virtually all of the construction on Telegraph is over, actually, except for up by Square Lake Road.
posted by pmurray63 at 2:13 PM on November 24, 2010

Response by poster: And, as a follow-up, I might add it was a totally smooth drive both ways.
posted by safetyfork at 11:19 AM on December 27, 2010

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