Maple Road reopens to drivers, shoppers

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 9, 2020

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BIRMINGHAM — Just in time for the holiday shopping season, the reconstruction of Maple Road ended Oct. 31 with a chilly, socially distanced ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Since late April, Maple Road has been closed  between South Old Woodward and Southfield Road through the downtown area as part of a three-phase overhaul of the downtown area’s aging infrastructure.

The $7.2 million project faced some hiccups along the way as construction workers faced slowdowns brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But in front of a crowd of residents and dignitaries, Birmingham Mayor Pierre Boutros said the effort was, in all, a major success.

“These projects are not always easy, and they’re not cheap, but they’re so needed,” he said. “And for all of you that have been impacted by the construction during this project, I want to thank you for (your) patience.”

The reconstruction, completed by Angelo Iafrate Construction, was first and foremost a project to replace the aging water and sewer systems below the downtown area, which date back to the 1940s and, according to city administrators, had well exceeded their expected useful lifespan.

But what visitors will likely notice is what’s on top of that infrastructure now, with a new and improved road surface, updated pedestrian crossings and signals, new landscaping, lighting, and even digital device charging stations.

Leaders expressed thanks to merchants downtown for their patience during the effort and said the improvements will, hopefully, lead to an even more successful holiday season in the city’s main shopping and entertainment district.

U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens of Michigan’s 11th District spoke during the opening celebration, as 10% of the project cost came from federal funds.

“This has been a worthwhile endeavor led through proper management, incredible construction workers and dedicated Birmingham residents,” Stevens said. “You are very much a best-in-class example of how to do local infrastructure projects right. You bring the community in, you’ve got a phenomenal (City) Commission and you’ve brought in the right partners to do it. And we got it done.”

The third phase of the program isn’t expected to kick off until 2022, with similar improvements made on South Old Woodward from Brown to Landon.

For more information on the Downtown Infrastructure Improvements program and other construction projects, visit the Engineering Department page on the city’s website, www.bhamgov.org.

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