Millions of dollars in maintenance work at the Detroit-Windsor tunnel will limit options for border crossers in the coming months.

The project comes after a recent inspection found the 86-year-old ceiling slab is showing signs of wear and tear from moisture, road salt and exhaust and needs to be replaced.

"We're working very closely with all of the venues both on the Windsor and Detroit sides as well as Transit Windsor," said tunnel company president Neal Belitsky. "We want to make this disruption as painless as possible."

The tunnel will be closed to traffic during weeknights, starting in November, for about seven months. 

Closure times will be from 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., with four weekends when the tunnel will stay closed during that period.

Belitsky explained the tunnel company prides itself on limiting closures, but added "this is one we just found unavoidable."

Detroit Windsor Tunnel stock sign

(CBC File Photo)

The work was originally scheduled to begin last year, but bids came in "excessively high" so the project was split into three parts, which reduced the cost by about $10 million, according to the president. Replacing the ceiling will cost nearly $17 million U.S.

The tunnel won't appear radically different once the project is completed, but Belitsky said it may have a "fresh new look" compared to the decades-old ceiling travellers are used to.

"We're just trying to stay on top of it so we can serve the travelling public for at least another 86 years," he added.