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County celebrates improvements to Executive Drive

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published August 12, 2016

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — “It was named after me: Executive Drive,” joked Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.

Not really. Executive Drive was constructed four decades before Hackel was voted into his position as county leader, but that didn’t mean a celebration wasn’t necessary on Aug. 10 as local officials and business leaders flocked to the middle of the 1-mile stretch of road to mark its grand reopening following some major improvements.

“When I was sheriff, I traveled this road often, and I can say these improvements were needed,” Hackel said after a ribbon-cutting ceremony that was held in front of Yanfeng USA Automotive Trim Systems.

In 2015, the Michigan Department of Transportation awarded a Transportation Economic Development Fund grant of $1,634,640 to rebuild Executive Drive, which runs parallel to Interstate 94 in Harrison Township. 

The grant was matched with $700,560 from the Macomb County Department of Roads, which made way for Yanfeng to expand locally while improving the road for other businesses within the industrial area. 

“Executive Drive is a prime example of how the growth of private industry can spur strategic investment in our infrastructure,” said Hackel. “Working alongside Yanfeng, our transportation service providers, economic developers and our community partners, we were able to modernize this key industrial roadway.”

The promise to make improvements to the road resulted in an investment of $56.6 million by China-based Yanfeng Automotive Interiors to occupy and renovate a vacant building. Investment is expected to create up to 519 new jobs in more than three years. 

“Five years ago, our journey started with 50 employees and now we’ve grown to more than 400,” said David Wang, vice president and deputy general manager, North America, for Yanfeng Automotive Interiors. “We’d like to thank Macomb County, MDOT, the MEDC, the Macomb County Department of Roads and Harrison Township for their outstanding support on this project.”

Executive Drive was constructed in 1973 and has had very few improvements made to it.

According to county officials, by the time the road was evaluated for possible funding, it rated a 1 on a scale from 1 to 10. 

Work began on April 4 of this year and included removal of the existing road and its base, replacement and installation of an enhanced drainage system to prevent flooding, installation of a continuous sidewalk, as well as drives to adjacent businesses and upgrades to fire hydrants and the municipal fire suppression system.

Bob Hoepfner, director of the Macomb County Department of Roads, said now that the road is complete, a speed assessment will be done to determine the new speed limit on the wider roadway. Also, now that the Special Assessment District has been approved, streetlights will be erected by DTE Energy.

Harrison Township Supervisor Ken Verkest said 17 poles will be equipped with LED fixtures, which will provide energy and cost savings for the businesses. The more than a dozen businesses on Executive Drive will be responsible for upkeep and replacement of the lights.

Also on hand during the event was U.S. Congresswoman Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, who said her father built one of the first buildings on nearby Production Drive when she was a young child.

“I have literally watched this industrial corridor grow,” she said.

“Today’s grand opening ... is another sign of southeast Michigan’s economic resurgence,” Miller said after the event. “Now with wider lanes, new sidewalks, and a new drainage system that will prevent flooding, this new industrial access road will help facilitate Yanfeng’s large, job-creating expansion and is certain to have a very positive economic, environmental and aesthetic impact, especially for the residents of Harrison Township.”