February will be local commuters’ last chance to drive all the way through a strip of 17 Mile Road for several months, according to city officials.
Starting March 1, construction crews are expected to launch a project to replace the railway bridge superstructure that stretches along 17 Mile, between Mound Road and Van Dyke Avenue. As a result, a section of 17 Mile will be shut down to eastbound and westbound traffic.
City spokesman Steve Guitar said the city project will go up for bid in February. According to officials, the repairs are expected to take five months to complete.
Guitar said he couldn’t remember the last time an infrastructure project of such magnitude took place in Sterling Heights.
“This is the first one I can recall,” he said.
City officials say people will still be able to reach local businesses on 17 Mile. They just can’t cross the section where the Conrail tracks are.
“We’re notifying the property owners,” Guitar said. “All access to their businesses will be open. Their access will be limited to their side of the tracks.”
The project is due for construction because the railway bridge has been worn into poor shape over the last three decades, especially in the last five years, City Engineer Brent Bashaw said.
He said the wear-and-tear has weakened the concrete support structures to the point where the bridge can hold 23 percent less of a load than it could five years ago, and it is 45 percent weaker than what it was originally designed to be.
“Superstructure replacement is needed to eliminate further load restrictions and eliminate lane closures on the bridge that would otherwise be imminent,” Bashaw said in a statement.
City officials say motorists will be warned with signage about the impending closure around two weeks before construction starts. Guitar said the detour details will be posted on the city’s website, and they will include suggestions to use alternate roads.
“We’ll be asking people to take Metro Parkway and 18 Mile Road to navigate around it,” he said.
Guitar said 80 percent, or $4.71 million, of the project’s cost will be paid for with federal highway administration funds. The rest, $1.05 million, will be paid for with allocated city funds, he said.
Learn more about construction and Sterling Heights under the “Cone Zone” tab at www.sterling-heights.net, or call (586) 446-2489.