More roadwork coming to Macomb this year

By: Jeremy Selweski | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published February 11, 2015

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Last year was one filled with road construction projects all over the township, and that trend is expected to continue in 2015.

The largest of these projects, by far, is the ongoing improvement of Hayes Road between 21 Mile and 23 Mile roads, in which the thoroughfare will be widened from two lanes to five in order to accommodate increasing traffic volumes. According to Bob Hoepfner, director of the Macomb County Department of Roads, the entirety of the massive construction job, which began last summer, “should be finished by the Fourth of July if all goes well.”

About 80 percent of the $9.1 million 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 and Shelby townships each handling 25 percent.

Another major road-widening project will take place along North Avenue between Hall Road and 21 Mile Road. Like Hayes, that stretch of North Avenue will be reconstructed and expanded from two lanes to five. However, Hoepfner was unsure of when the $4.7 million project would get underway because his department is still waiting on federal authorization of an environmental study that was conducted on North Avenue last year.

“Unfortunately, the Federal Highway Administration will not allow us to begin construction until that permit is approved,” he explained. “I have my fingers crossed that we will be able to (finish that project) this year, but it doesn’t look too good right now.”

Most recently, the Macomb Township Board of Trustees approved the contract for paving the gravel portion of Luchtman Road. On Jan. 26, the board gave the green light for the project, which is estimated to cost $850,000 and will cover the stretch of Luchtman from north of the Wolverine Country Club Estates subdivision to 26 Mile Road.

At the meeting, Township Engineer Jim Van Tiflin pointed out that the township still has some money on credit with the Department of Roads that will be put toward the Luchtman construction work. Under most circumstances, township officials split the cost of road projects so that the township covers 60 percent of the expenditures, while the county covers the remaining 40 percent. Recently, however, Macomb Township paid for 100 percent of the cost of upgrades along 24 Mile and Fairchild roads.

“I believe there are still some funds left over from the 24 Mile Road and Fairchild Road paving that will be applied to this particular (Luchtman) project,” Van Tiflin told the board. “I think the way the agreement is set up is that it has the standard 60/40 split, and then the funds that have been moved back and forth between projects (on credit) — that’s a separate item.”

Trustee Dino Bucci noted that a handful of residential developers along Luchtman that still owe the township money for the portion of the road construction that includes their subdivision frontage.

Addressing Van Tiflin, Bucci stated, “There are some developers — as you well know, and I’m sure (Clerk Michael) Koehs remembers — that need to come up with some money for Luchtman Road. That hasn’t been included in this (agreement), but will you be gracious enough to make sure to inform them that that money needs to be applied to this?”

Later, Koehs estimated that the township still has around 8 or 9 miles of unpaved roads, a number that officials keep chipping away at each year with projects like the one on Luchtman. It has still yet to be determined how long it will take them to pave every road in the township, however.

“That all depends on the amount of (residential) development that we get over the next several years,” Koehs explained. “If we have a lot of new developments coming in, that would precipitate a major traffic increase where we would need to pave some more of those roads.”

Besides the widening of Hayes, there are a few other local construction projects that began in 2014 that will carry over into this year. For instance, the $1.2 million paving of 24 Mile Road between Romeo Plank and Foss roads is almost complete, according to Hoepfner.

“We had to put in a box culvert on 24 Mile (for water to pass underneath the road),” he said, “so now we just need to go back in and pave over that. I would think that the whole project will be finished by the middle of June.”

Another section of 24 Mile — the stretch from Hayes to Romeo Plank roads — also remains under construction. However, that project will only cost the township about $100,000 because it is part of a larger water main installation by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department that runs west all the way to the Shelby Township/Rochester border at Dequindre Road.

The Macomb Township portion of the job was originally supposed to be finished by the end of 2014, but the timeline at this point seems unclear. Hoepfner was unsure of when the construction work would be done, and a request for comment from the DWSD was not returned by press time.

Another unfinished project is the resurfacing of Card Road from Hall Road to 21 Mile Road. That $441,000 job involves replacing the existing road and adding three new bypass lanes to prevent lengthy backups during peak traffic hours. It had been scheduled to be completed by last September but encountered some delays along the way.

“We just ran out of time on that one,” Hoepfner admitted. “We never got a chance to put down the final layer of asphalt on that stretch (of Card), so we’ll be doing that first thing this spring.”

The resurfacing of 21 Mile Road between Garfield and Romeo Plank roads encountered similar holdups. That $788,000 project is more expensive than the one on Card because, in addition to the new layer of asphalt and the construction of two bypass lanes, it includes the extension of a culvert near Macomb Township Fire Station No. 2. That’s where the Department of Roads ran into issues gaining proper authorization from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

“We were never able to put that box culvert in last year,” Hoepfner said. “Now that we have our permit from the DEQ, that will be another project that we tackle as soon as the ground thaws.”