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May 3, 2013

Brainstorming the perfect corridor

Roseville nearing step two in Gratiot, Groesbeck corridor plan

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Dave Scurto, a planner with Carlisle-Wortman, gives a presentation in Roseville April 30 on the Gratiot and Groesbeck Corridors Improvement Plan.

ROSEVILLE — The City of Roseville invited local municipalities and state and local organizations to a presentation on the start of the Gratiot and Groesbeck Corridors Reinvestment Plan April 30.

The reinvestment plan was not revealed at the presentation — it hasn’t been developed yet; rather, the presentation was a means to get the word out on the intended plan and collect information from organizations and municipal stakeholders with similar projects.

“We don’t quite have a plan yet,” said Carlisle-Wortman Planner Dave Scurto, who is heading project plans for the city. “The whole focus of this meeting is to see what type of information we have out there. We are just getting started into the project. Right now, we are on task 1.0 — assessing information and gathering input.”

Scurto kicked off the presentation with a short slide show, highlighting some of the area’s problems and the various aspects the plan will look at — marketing opportunities, economic development, land use, zoning, investment projects and public infrastructure improvements.

“On Gratiot Avenue, we are going to focus on really highly visible properties,” Scurto said. “We’d also like to do some improvements along the entire corridor, such as maintenance projects. We’d like to hear about transportation projects for Gratiot Avenue. We hear about the potential of rapid rail transit on Woodward — are there things like this we can do on Gratiot? Should we look at transit stations?

“Utica Junction is almost like a village within a city. It’s the original heart of Roseville. It has great walkability, but there are some vacant properties. There are some parking issues, but that could become a more walkable environment that ties into the adjacent neighborhoods.

“We are looking at investment opportunities. I understand Macomb Mall has someone who is interested in taking down part of the mall, one of the shops and building out from there.”

Representatives from Eastpointe, Clinton Township, Macomb County, the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) attended the presentation, held in Erin Auditorium, and took part in the workshop session that followed.

Steve Minton, a representative from MDOT, spoke about some of the state’s plans for Gratiot between 11 Mile and 14 Mile roads, which include major construction on the I-94 off-ramp onto Gratiot.

“We are actually doing it in two pieces, from 11 Mile to Common Road and from Common to 14. Right now, as of three days ago, it’s been officially pulled out of the five-year plan, but we are still moving forward and working on the plans,” Minton said.

“We are in this weird state right now where we are moving ahead with the plans but we don’t know exactly when we will construct them,” Minton said. “We are looking at everything, including the connector; the idea is to T-in the connector and put a signal in to eliminate the free-flow onto Gratiot and the merging and weaving situation we have there.”

Some of the other things MDOT is looking at include: turning the fourth through-lane on Gratiot between Common and 14 Mile roads into a right turn lane; removing street parking south of Common to 11 Mile; and eliminating some of the crossovers, or Michigan turnarounds, south of Common.

Minton assured municipal representatives that, while they are looking at many issues on Gratiot, they understand removing parking and some crossovers is a touchy subject, and it’s something they’d further address at a local level before moving forward.

Eastpointe Mayor Suzanne Pixley spoke about some of her Gratiot transportation concerns, saying higher-speed traffic would be bad for businesses, before sharing her hopes of creating an art district along Gratiot in Eastpointe.

Representatives from SMART said that Gratiot was their busiest route with 75 northbound and 75 southbound trips per day, and they spoke about the possibility of a transit station but said that nothing is in the planning stages yet. A representative from the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments spoke about the organization’s work on a redevelopment tool kit for Gratiot.

“We’ve been working for a number of months with a number of people (on the tool kit),” SEMCOG representative Susan Phillips said. “There are some synergies between the two pieces of work, and our time frame is very similar and compatible.”

Roseville expects to finalize corridor plans by the end of the year.

“We’d like to have our public input session by the end of May (or) beginning of June, but as a follow-up to this meeting, what we would like to do is gather all the information and then come back at some point and have a work session to formulate a long-term strategy,” Scurto said. “We are going to spend June, July, August and September getting recommendations while working with a steering committee. Then we’d like to have our actual plan out by the end of the year.”

There isn’t a date set for the public input session yet, but officials from Roseville said, once a date is set, key stakeholders along the corridor will be notified, and the meeting date and time will be advertised to the public. 

Although the corridor plans are still in the beginning stages, Roseville officials have embraced the project. City Controller Bob Cady, Building Director Glenn Sexton, Assessor Brooke Openshaw, Administrative Assistant Yvette Krellwitz and Mayor John Chirkun all attended the meeting.

“These gentlemen have some good ideas, and I can’t wait to go forward with them,” Chirkun said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.