Construction season gears up as East Nine Mile project gets underway

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published April 8, 2015

 The East Nine Mile Road improvement project will better accommodate multiple modes of transportation.

The East Nine Mile Road improvement project will better accommodate multiple modes of transportation.

Photo by Joshua Gordon


FERNDALE — Last summer, the city of Ferndale planned to tear up more than a mile of East Nine Mile Road as part of a resurfacing project that would have divided the work around the Woodward Dream Cruise.

However, bids for the work came in nearly $1 million over projections and the city was forced to sit on a majority of the work, electing to do only a water main replacement last year and move the resurfacing job to 2015.

Now, with a bid at the original $1.6 million estimate, construction was scheduled to kick off April 6, depending on the weather, and is intended to bring better roads, easier pedestrian crossings and bicycle lanes.

“The project was not only a street improvement plan, but also a water main replacement project, so the city saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by pulling the water main out and splitting the project,” Department of Public Works Director Loyd Cureton said. “Now we can start the rehabilitation project and meet the timeline so we don’t interfere with special events, most notably the Dream Cruise.”

City officials originally went out for bid in May 2014, but the bids came in around $2.5 million. Cureton said the main factors for the high bids were the splitting of the project into two phases around the Dream Cruise and the higher cost of concrete.

The project will consist of milling and overlaying existing asphalt, upgrading curbs and sidewalks with new disability ramps, incorporating a bike lane, and new pedestrian crossings and landscaping in the medians.

The original schedule of the construction work last year forced DIY Street Fair Event Coordinator Chris Johnston to cancel the event. However, when the construction was postponed, the event was held Sept. 12-14 of last year.

“It was really important for us to delay and put it back out for bid so we could get a cost that met our budget, because it is an important project, but we couldn’t afford busting the bank for it,” Mayor Dave Coulter said. “So it was worth the delay in my mind. The price of concrete has soared kind of unexplainable, but we didn’t want that to stop us from doing the project, because it is a good project.”

The water main work, which came in $200,000 higher than expected in the original bidding, was completed last fall. Some portions of the replaced water main were up to 70 years old, and the new water main provides better water flow and allows the city to expand, Cureton said.

The road improvement project, which will see East Nine Mile converted from four lanes to three, will be constructed in three stages. The first stage will include the construction of curb replacements and sidewalks with ramps from Woodward Avenue to West End Street.

During the first stage, traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction. The stage is expected to be completed by early June.

The second stage will consist of resurfacing the road, with traffic still reduced to one lane, and the final stage will see a layer of asphalt placed along the entire roadway with new pavement markings. Construction is estimated to be completed by Aug. 13, just in time for the Dream Cruise.

“The main purpose of the project is to introduce bicycle pathways and pedestrian walkways in order to bring access to people of all abilities and transportation,” Cureton said. “We want to bring that section alive and make it so much more accessible. With going from four lanes to three in most places, we can do some islands and create a safe haven for people who cross the streets, so there are some significant improvements.”

Throughout the construction, the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority will send out weekly updates, and the DPW will also provide City Council with weekly updates.

The completion of the East Nine Mile project will bring more uniformity to the downtown district following the West Nine Mile Road project in 2013 that saw bike lanes, ramps and streetscaping added to the area.

“We are increasingly seeing the downtown growing east, and we already see that with some of the new developments,” Coulter said. “It is important as we grow to the east that we include some of the same important features from the rest of the downtown, like the walkability and the safer sections that tie it to our downtown.”