‘We’ve been anticipating it for a long time’

Farmington has high hopes for the Farmington Road streetscape project

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published June 29, 2022

 The city of Farmington has broken ground on the Farmington Road streetscape project.

The city of Farmington has broken ground on the Farmington Road streetscape project.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

FARMINGTON — It has been more than 10 years since the city of Farmington completed the Grand River streetscape.

Farmington Mayor Sara Bowman said that the project “transformed our downtown.”

That streetscape resulted in new developments and new businesses in Farmington, according to Bowman, and it is her hope that the city’s current streetscape project yields similar results.

Farmington recently broke ground on the Farmington Road streetscape project, which Bowman said will run between Alta Loma Drive and Grand River Avenue and be a “complete redo.”

The first phase of the project is expected to include the “reconstruction” of the Alta Loma and Orchard Street intersections, before starting on the Farmington Road section.

According to the city of Farmington website, the Farmington Road streetscape project is a multi-million dollar-infrastructure improvement made possible with a $1 million federal grant through the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Bowman expects the construction portion of the project to be completed in November, with the  finishing touches on the landscaping to be wrapped up next spring.

She said it is a project that has been years in the making.

“It is a continuation of the Grand River streetscape that was completed over 10 years ago,” Bowman said. “They were supposed to be done together, so this has been part of our master plan for the downtown for quite a few years. Unfortunately, the recession hit, and we were only able to complete the Grand River portion.”

Based on what was done on Grand River, Bowman provided a glimpse of what is expected to be in store when the Farmington Road streetscape project is completed.

“When you invest that kind of money into the infrastructure — the roads, sidewalks, the lighting, the landscaping, and you make all those improvements to make it more walkable and make it more attractive — the businesses that have blossomed and come to town are an absolute direct result of the contribution the city has made into that area,” she said. “We have nothing but the highest hopes and expectations that the same thing is (going to) happen on Farmington Road.”

Aside from the grant that was awarded through MDOT, Bowman shared more details about how the project is being funded, including the Farmington Downtown Development Authority’s role.

“The DDA and the city are splitting the project 50/50, and we have it sent out for a bond — we have agreed to not more than $3 million; so that’s $1.5 (million) for the city and $1.5 (million) for the DDA,” she said. “It is a bonded project, but what was really able to take us over the top was the $1 million in the TAP grant, which is a Transportation Alternatives Program. Those are federal dollars that are made available very selectively to projects that enhance walkability, inter-mobile transportation (and) anything that provides safer alternatives to transportation.”

Bowman elaborated on the bond agreement between Farmington and the DDA.

“The city and the DDA have jointly entered into a bond purchase,” Bowman said. “We’ve hired an outside company that will put it out to bid and find us the best rates and the best deal. We agreed to not more than $3 million and a 50/50 split for our repayment.”

Bowman also provided more details about how Farmington was able to secure a grant.

“Because we were able to show the improvements in the sidewalks and that we’re reducing the lanes on Farmington Road to one each way with an island median in the middle to slow traffic and to improve street crossings, we were super fortunate to be awarded that $1 million,” she said. “That really helped us.”

Farmington Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Kate Knight expects “immediate” benefits as a result of the streetscape.

“That infrastructural commitment is a definitive sign to the regional and statewide community that we are really moving forward — we have some progressive energy here downtown, and it presents a great opportunity for anyone who’s interested in coming to join us as part of that progress,” Knight said.

Bowman provided an update as to what residents can expect in regard to traveling on Farmington Road.

“While Farmington Road currently remains completely open, as this project continues, you’re (going to) see it go down to one lane, one direction, and then be closed pretty much completely,” she said. “But we’re working very closely with all the businesses to make sure that there’s access to everything.”

From approximately the middle of July until sometime in November, Farmington Road is expected to be closed completely.

“There will be a portion of the project where Farmington will be closed,” Bowman said. “We’re touching everything — the roads, sidewalks. We’re doing a little bit of water and sewer while we’re in there. … It’s brand-new sidewalks; it’s brand-new street lighting; it’s brand-new landscaping; it’s brand-new road.”

While Bowman anticipates that the streetscape is going to result in “nothing but great things” for Farmington, she understands the frustration that comes with road closures.

“I live here, too. It’s going to be very inconvenient,” Bowman said. “The inconvenience factor is not to be understated, but it’s really this opportunity we have for the greater good.”

Bowman’s expectation is that residents will “love the outcome.”

“Maybe next summer, we won’t have to remember the dirt and the dust quite so much,” she said.

Knight is also optimistic about the end result of the Farmington Road streetscape project.

“It’s really an economic development spur for us,” she said. “This is a project that is going to reap immediate benefits for the whole community. The community has been prioritizing this over the past few years. … We’ve been anticipating it for a long time.”

Residents can get updates on the project by visiting https://farmgov.com/City-Services/Public-Services/Construction-Project/2022/Farmington-Road-Streetscape.aspx.

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