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Eastpointe plans hearing to discuss ‘road diet’ for Eight Mile

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published August 13, 2019

 The city of Eastpointe will host a public forum to discuss reducing the number of lanes along a portion of Eight Mile Road between Vernier Avenue and Beaconsfield Street at its regular City Council meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20.

The city of Eastpointe will host a public forum to discuss reducing the number of lanes along a portion of Eight Mile Road between Vernier Avenue and Beaconsfield Street at its regular City Council meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20.

Photo by Deb Jacques

EASTPOINTE — The city of Eastpointe will host a public hearing regarding plans to reduce a portion of Eight Mile Road from four lanes to three at its regular City Council meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20.

The section of road will be located between Vernier Road and Beaconsfield Street. Jose Abraham, the Department of Public Works and Services director, said the project is being planned because of a reduction of traffic in the area.

“Currently, it is a four-lane street with two lanes in each direction,” Abraham said. “This is ideal for a (street average daily traffic amount) of around 15,000 cars, whereas on this section of Eight Mile is only 5,780 as of March of 2019. We want to reduce the street to one lane in each direction with a left-turn lane in between. This process is commonly called a road diet.”

Planning for the project is being done by Anderson, Eckstein & Westrick Inc. Stephen Pangori, the company president, said a road diet on that portion of road should improve the area, which is largely zoned for business use.

“I think the reconstruction will freshen up a commercial district in the city that is in need of some freshening up,” Pangori said. “The project will reduce the concrete footprint and create more greenspace in that corridor, which should also benefit not only the businesses but anybody who uses that area.”

Abraham agreed that the project would provide a long-term benefit for the city and its residents.

“This will improve the ability to turn left from either direction without blocking traffic,” he said. “We want to add in a sidewalk with some green area, like grass. That road is in poor condition and this will allow it to get a newly reconstructed street, which should have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. It also will beautify the street with additional pedestrian and green space. It also is one less travel lane for the city to maintain, so maintenance expenses for the road will be lower.”

Similar projects have been done in the past, and officials said the results were positive.

“We did the same on Beaconsfield between Eight Mile and Vernier in Harper Woods, and the project went incredibly smoothly,” Pangori said. “It improved the road and caused no problems. We also did Beaconsfield from Vernier down to Moross. It’s not a new idea; it’s something being done regularly all over the state in areas that don’t have as dense a population as before. This is a prime example of one of those areas.”

While road diet projects similar to this one often include putting in a bike lane, Abraham said that wasn’t an option for this length of road, since such a lane wouldn’t connect with any other bike lanes or trails.

The public hearing will take place at Eastpointe City Hall, located at 23200 Gratiot Ave. It will allow residents to ask questions or share their opinions about the project.

“I’m sure people will be curious with what we are going to be doing,” Abraham remarked. “They want to know what the advantages are or if there will be any changes in traffic congestion.” 

He said the cost for the project will be offset by federal funding, which will cover most of the project.

“About 80% of the cost is paid from the federal government through federal transportation appropriation funds. (The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments) then gives the money to communities based on factors such as need or road conditions for individual programs,” Abraham explained. “The total cost for construction is estimated at $1,034,000, plus about $100,000 to $120,000 in engineering and inspection costs.”

Pangori added that it will probably take about five to six months in construction time, and he agreed that the completion date would likely be in the fall of 2020.

“We’re hoping to get bids in January or February of 2020 for the project,” said Abraham. “The City Council had no objection to the plan, so once the initial plan is submitted to (the Michigan Department of Transportation), they just have to approve the final plan before the project is approved to begin.”

“There are a lot fewer cars using that stretch of road in that area than it was planned for,” Pangori added. “Reducing the traveling lanes from two in each direction to one in each direction is really right-sizing the current road to reflect its current use.”

Both men said the project will be an improvement for the Eastpointe area.

“Based on current conditions, I don’t think there’s any need for complaints for this project,” Abraham said. “Some people may be worried about reducing traffic (volume), but that wouldn’t be an issue on this area of road. We want to host this public hearing more to answer any questions people have. I know people are concerned about road conditions, so hopefully by this time next year, this section of road will be brand-new.”