Orchard Lake Road reconstruction, Northwestern Connector work underway

By: Sherri Kolade | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 8, 2017

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Orchard Lake Road is no stranger to the orange barrels. Neither are the roughly 44,000 drivers who use Orchard Lake Road every day.

Those ubiquitous beacons of construction will be back in action for months to come on Orchard Lake Road — from Northwestern Highway/14 Mile Road to south of Maple Road — as part of the Northwestern Connector Project.

The ongoing connector project is designed to enhance traffic flow where Northwestern Highway ends at Orchard Lake Road.

The reconstruction on Orchard Lake Road was scheduled to begin June 12 and is slated to run through November.

During this project, Orchard Lake Road will have one lane open in each direction, along with a continuous center left turn lane, according to a press release. Businesses will be open and accessible during the project, officials said.

The roughly $7.2 million project will reconstruct just under a mile of roadway, which includes converting Orchard Lake Road from its current five-lane configuration to a four-lane concrete boulevard with a grassy median, eliminating the service drive on the east side of Orchard Lake Road. Other improvements include construction of 8-foot-wide pedestrian paths along both sides, drainage improvements and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant pedestrian crosswalks, according to a press release. The Orchard Lake reconstruction is being done through a partnership with the Road Commission for Oakland County and West Bloomfield Township. 

The cost is funded by federal and local dollars, with $2.2 million split between the township and the Road Commission. The remaining share will be paid for by federal dollars. 

Marshall Labadie, development services director for the township, said during a recent interview that improved road safety and pedestrian use of the township’s business corridor are positives of the project.

“The overall goal is … to improve traffic flow and safety,” he said, adding that reconstructing the main roadway within the town center district is key “to create a safer, easier-to-use Orchard Lake boulevard that is more aesthetic in nature.” 

Labadie added that next year, the township will conduct a streetscaping project that includes median landscaping, streetlights and more.

“The overall aesthetics of our business district will greatly improve … creating a sense of our corridor  — the ‘Welcome to West Bloomfield’ corridor — on Orchard Lake Road,” Labadie said.

During the current reconstruction, Powers Road will close for a short time at Orchard Lake Road so the intersection can be realigned, according to the press release. The detour for Powers Road traffic will be Daly Road to Maple Road to Orchard Lake Road, and the reverse.    

The Northwestern Connector Project goes back to the 1950s, when the state of Michigan declared a plan to build Northwestern Highway to connect Oakland County to Fenton. The Road Commission contributed several million dollars in 1957 to pay for the highway that was never completed, according to Craig Bryson, public information officer for the Road Commission. 

Bryson said during a recent phone interview that work for the Northwestern Connector Project includes the Orchard Lake-Maple Road intersection, which was completed last November; the 14 Mile/Orchard Lake roundabout; reconfiguration of Northwestern Highway; and more. Work will begin in July on Maple Road from Haggerty Road to Halstead and from Halstead to Drake Road.

Bryson added that the current Orchard Lake Road project will include some drainage improvements and more.

“We are expecting all lanes to be open to traffic by the end of October, but there will be some behind-the-curb restoration work landscaping that will continue into November,” he said.

For more information on the Orchard Lake Road project, go to www.rcocweb.org/416/Orchard-Lake-Road.