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 A rating system gave Oakland Street a 2 on the scale in 2012, indicating it was a failed road then. Seven years later, the street is rated zero.

A rating system gave Oakland Street a 2 on the scale in 2012, indicating it was a failed road then. Seven years later, the street is rated zero.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

Farmington’s Oakland Street finally getting a makeover

First one-way street planned

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published June 24, 2019

 The reconstruction of Oakland Street will create historical downtown Farmington’s first one-way street.

The reconstruction of Oakland Street will create historical downtown Farmington’s first one-way street.

Photo by Jonathan Shead


FARMINGTON — The reconstruction of Oakland Street, west of Farmington Road, has been on city staff’s plate since 2012, when it decided to eliminate that portion of the street from a road construction project stretching east, to save money — about $244,000.

Back then, the road was considered a 2 on the  Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating scale, a system developed by the University of Wisconsin Transportation Information Center that rates road pavement conditions, qualifying it as a failed road. Today, the road sits with an even worse rating: zero.

“The road is falling apart. It’s a zero on the PASER rating. I mean, you can drive across it, but it’s not safe,” said Farmington Mayor Steven Schneemann. “It has to be fixed, and there’s some sewer improvements that need to be done under the road as well. It’s probably the worst, if not one of the three worst roads in the whole city.”

That’s why the City Council and the Downtown Development Authority voted — on June 3 and June 5, respectively — to approve moving forward with the reconstruction and streetscape beautification of Oakland Street and the surrounding site. City Council members passed the project in a 4-1 vote, and the DDA passed the project unanimously.

The City Council will be allocating money from the water and sewer budget to pay for the road repaving, as well as sewer and infrastructure replacements. The DDA is financially responsible for all electrical and streetscape elements, including the parking, lighting, sidewalks and added Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility. These items will fall in line with the foundation that’s already been established throughout downtown’s streetscape, said DDA Executive Director Kate Knight.

Knight said she is excited to see this project come to life and be completed within the year for residents to enjoy.

“It allows us to jump on a really busy construction cycle and get a great project done, hopefully quickly, this summer,” said Knight.

VIL Construction, an independent contractor from Sterling Heights, was the sole bidder on this project as the May 9 deadline came. It bid $763,104.50, which was about 32 percent higher than city staff anticipated the project’s costs would be. City staff calculated and estimated the project’s cost to be around $550,000.

“I think everybody was disappointed the prices came in so high. That’s kind of universal … but that’s just the climate we’re in right now,” Schneemann said. “They waited seven years, and the price doubled.”

Councilmember Bill Galvin, the lone opposing vote on City Council, cited the inflated costs, due to what he called an over-designed project, as well as what he felt was a lack of transparency and citizen engagement, as the reasons he didn’t vote to approve the project.

“I think we handled the engagement and transparency at a weaker level than we’ve done in the past,” said Galvin. “Farmington is known for engaging their citizens, and in this particular project we’re putting in downtown Farmington’s first and only one-way street. The entire design phase that took place through 2018 didn’t engage our citizens in that dialogue or in the creation of a new streetscape.”

Galvin also said he was “hoping to get (the project) back down to the original cost estimate for the construction phase.”

In working with the city’s engineer, Matt Parks, as well as VIL, the city was able to provide some valuable engineering suggestions, like reducing the variety of materials used and omitting other materials that weren’t vital to the project’s integrity.

This helped the city save approximately $92,000 on the project, making the project’s total cost about $675,000 — or roughly $750,000 with a 10 percent contingency on the project, in case of any additional costs the city might accrue.

Galvin said doesn’t disagree with the validity and necessity of the project — saying it’s beneficial because it improves parking, the street condition, lighting and pedestrian safety — but he’s worried about the potential for additional costs once it gets started.

But Knight doesn’t foresee that being an issue with this project.

“The contingency we add to everything is to ensure we keep everything below that top line. That allows us to deal with any emergencies that may pop up,” he said.

Overall, both Schneemann and Knight think this project checks a lot of boxes in terms of what the city was hoping to get out of the project, and they expect residents to enjoy the improvements.

The construction is set to begin sometime after the Fourth of July weekend, and it is anticipated to be completed by September or October.