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Macomb Township

July 30, 2014

Hayes Road widening gets underway

Three more road projects set to start soon

By Jeremy Selweski
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Cars line up along Hayes Road just north of 22 Mile Road on July 25. Construction just got underway on a project to widen Hayes from two lanes to five between 21 Mile and 23 Mile roads.

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Get ready: The barrels are coming.

The remainder of this summer and the coming fall season in Macomb Township are on track to be filled with road construction, with four projects either already underway or scheduled to begin soon.

The largest of these projects, by far, is the widening of Hayes Road between 21 Mile and 23 Mile roads, which began last week and will continue through the rest of this year and well into 2015. Other work that is expected to begin soon includes the paving of 24 Mile Road between Romeo Plank and Foss roads, as well as the resurfacing of 21 Mile from Garfield Road to Romeo Plank, and Card Road from Hall Road to 21 Mile.

Township Engineer Jim Van Tiflin clarified, however, that despite the township’s busy construction season, there is little chance that all four road projects will overlap.

“I would say that these projects are scattered all over the township, so I don’t think they will cause too much inconvenience for drivers,” he said. “Ultimately, we’re just trying to get all these roads fixed to help improve the traffic flow for everyone. The hard part, though, is that the township does not have a lot of say over the timeline for these projects.”

According to Township Clerk Michael Koehs, “Our whole construction schedule is based on the (Macomb County) Department of Roads’ timing and funding and, of course, on the weather. It’s all a question of working cooperatively with the Road Commission, but we’re lucky that they’ve always been a great partner to work with.”

Hayes is being widened from two lanes to five so that its increasing traffic volumes can be accommodated, with the goal of creating a safer roadway for motorists. The upgrade was originally expected to cost about $8.8 million altogether, making it easily the most expensive of all the projects that the Department of Roads has scheduled this construction season.

About 80 percent of the project’s cost will be paid for by federal highway grant dollars. The remaining expenditures will be split between the local participants, with the Department of Roads covering 50 percent and Macomb Township and Shelby Township each handling 25 percent. However, as Road Commission Director Bob Hoepfner pointed out, the final bids came in about $300,000 above those initial estimates. As a result, both townships recently approved the allocation of an additional $105,000 toward the project.

As Koehs put it, “That’s a pretty heavy-duty infrastructure project in addition to widening the road. We’re not just slapping a new layer of asphalt on top of the road — there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s quite a bit of underground sewer work that needs to be done.”

Work on Hayes began last week, but according to Hoepfner, the road should remain intact for the rest of the year. Construction crews are now focusing on installing the new storm sewers and underground drainage along Hayes, and preparing for the major roadwork that will take place in 2015. Hoepfner estimated that the actual widening and repaving would not begin until next May.

“We will continue to work on it for the next few months, and then we’ll be gone by Dec. 1,” he said. “This is an enormous project, but we don’t want to just pave two lanes of it this year and then leave the rest of it for 2015. That’s not fair to do to people.”

Meanwhile, the upgrade of 24 Mile is expected to start sometime in August and conclude in November. The $1.2 million project will be jointly funded, with the Department of Roads covering 60 percent of the cost and Macomb Township covering 40 percent. Once completed, it will grant the long-awaited request of many residents in the area to pave the two-mile gravel stretch of 24 Mile between Romeo Plank and Foss.

The other two projects were just approved by the Macomb Township Board of Trustees on July 23. At a total cost of $788,027, the resurfacing of 21 Mile from Garfield to Romeo Plank is the more expensive of the two. The Department of Roads will cover $472,817 of the expenditures, and Macomb Township will pay for the remainder. The resurfacing of Card from Hall Road to 21 Mile will cost $441,250, with the county paying for $264,750 and the township handling the rest.

Hoepfner explained that the 21 Mile project is more costly because it also includes the extension of a culvert near Macomb Township Fire Station No. 2. He described this portion of the project as “a pretty massive job” that will take at least a month to complete.

On the other hand, the roadwork for both projects simply involves replacing the top layer of asphalt across a one-mile stretch, as well as adding three new bypass lanes along Card and two new bypass lanes along 21 Mile. Hoepfner said that these projects could get started as early as next week and that the resurfacing portion for each should be finished within only one or two weeks.

It’s a lot to tackle in one year, but the road chief believes that motorists will be especially glad to see the improvements to busy thoroughfares like Hayes, Card and 21 Mile.

“Those are probably the three worst roads in the township,” Hoepfner said, “so I think people will be really pleased when we’re all done with them. In the meantime, drivers should definitely seek alternate routes around all of these projects and plan for a little bit longer daily commute. It’s inconvenient, but that’s just part of the cost of construction.”

Van Tiflin noted that each upgrade should help reduce traffic in its respective area. Widening Hayes from two lanes to five will have obvious benefits by accommodating many more vehicles and providing a dedicated left-turn lane. Adding bypass lanes to Card and 21 Mile will prevent lengthy backups along those roads during peak traffic hours. And paving 24 Mile will not only provide a smoother ride without all the dust and debris of a gravel road, but it will also alleviate excessive traffic on 23 Mile, 25 Mile, Romeo Plank and Foss roads caused by drivers trying to avoid 24 Mile.

“It all works together, the entire road system — every piece affects every other piece,” Van Tiflin said. “People don’t want to be stuck in traffic jams or driving on narrow, bumpy roads or roads that haven’t even been paved yet. They will almost always take the path of least resistance, and the path that keeps their car the cleanest.”

For more information, call the Macomb County Department of Roads at (586) 463-8671 or visit www.rcmcweb.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Jeremy Selweski at jSelweski@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5004.