City charts out 5-year road repair plan

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published January 31, 2018

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The early return of winter potholes in Sterling Heights has caused grief for resident Harry Marchlones.

During a public comment period at the Jan. 16 Sterling Heights City Council meeting, Marchlones explained some of the problems he has recently had driving around Schoenherr and Dodge Park roads, between 15 Mile Road and Metropolitan Parkway.

One of those problems was a blown-out a tire.

“If I go anywhere north or east, I cannot find a way to get back home without doing a road test on my new car,” Marchlones said. “You could almost use those (roads) for test tracks for military vehicles, including the Abrams tank.”

After other residents complained about the condition of the roads, Councilman Nate Shannon expressed empathy, and he added that a lot of the roads drawing the most ire are under county jurisdiction.

“I just wanted to take just a second and acknowledge to the residents here and to the residents at home that with regard to the state of the roads and the potholes that we hear you. We hear you and we feel your pain. We deal with them on a daily basis also,” Shannon said.

“I was on Mound Road the other day, and it is, in my opinion, a total disgrace.”

City officials’ attention turned back to the roads during a Jan. 23 city strategic planning meeting.

City Manager Mark Vanderpool said there is a need to focus on infrastructure issues in the years ahead. According to officials, a big part of that involves a five-year road plan that the city has prepared.

While some of those repairs  previously have been partially subsidized through county and federal matching dollars, more city money will need to be invested, Vanderpool said.

“Over $70 million will be invested in additional roadway improvements,” he said. “And that doesn’t include the county’s improvement of Mound Road.”

According to City Engineer Brent Bashaw, the city has seen over $100 million in road construction and improvements over the last several years.

As part of a review of 2017 roadwork, Bashaw said city crews handled 3.52 miles of full road replacements in 27 locations, as well as 1.55 miles of sectional road replacements in 23 locations. Asphalt joint repairs affected 1.31 miles of roadway in 11 locations, he added.

Upon doing a PASER — Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating — analysis of the quality of the city’s roads, officials concluded in 2017 that 8.5 percent of the city’s roads are in poor shape, 13.5 percent are in good shape and the rest are somewhere in between. 

Bashaw said a new five-year road plan charts out projected major and local road repairs from 2018 until 2022, and that plan’s goal is to change those PASER road scores to be 18 percent good and only 7 percent poor by 2022, he said.

In 2018, an additional 4.13 miles of local road concrete reconstruction, full or sectional, is planned on 31 roads, Bashaw said.

“The location of these roads provide for a geographic diversity for the program, and they address poorly rated roads,” he said.

Among the major road projects scheduled for 2018, city officials expect the M-59 median improvements to wrap up. They plan resurfacing work on Van Dyke, between 18 1/2 Mile Road and M-59; on Canal Road, from old Van Dyke to Saal Road; on Dodge Park Road, between 15 Mile Road and Metropolitan Parkway; and on Schoenherr Road, between 15 Mile and north of Metro Parkway.

Concrete repairs are also expected on Metro Parkway, at Schoenherr Road; and on Mound Road, between 17 Mile and 18 Mile roads. Roadwork will also continue on Dequindre Road, north of 18 Mile Road, Bashaw explained.

When looking ahead to the rest of the five-year road plan, one of the biggest projects slated to occur over that period is the reconstruction of Mound Road from Interstate 696 to M-59, along with landscaping and technological additions allowing for vehicle interconnectivity.

According to Bashaw, the Mound repairs are scheduled to take place in 2020.

“Mound Road is the most traveled north-south road in the city. It is located in an industrial corridor that is among the most important and innovative industrial corridors in the nation,” he said. “The road also has undoubtedly reached the end of its useful life and is in very poor condition.”

The city has been working with business and governmental partners through a campaign called Innovate Mound to try to secure grants and funds to cover the project’s expenses, which are estimated at $217 million. The city plans to hear the verdict on a possible $130 million grant sometime this spring. 

“If the grant is not received initially, the (Innovate Mound) group intends to resubmit the grant and keep searching for efforts to fund this project,” Bashaw said.

Overall, Bashaw said, the five-year road plan will devote about $23.5 million to local road repairs and about $54 million to major road repairs — not counting expenses from the proposed Mound Road reconstruction project.

These plans and figures assume a voter-approved renewal of the Safe Streets Millage in 2019, officials said. That millage, intended for public safety and local roads, was originally passed in 2013. The millage originally levied 1.7 mills for police and fire services and 0.8 mill for local street improvements.

Find out more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489. Find out more about Innovate Mound by visiting www.innovatemound.org.