Traffic backs up on Metropolitan Parkway, just east of Dequindre Road, where a road construction project is underway.

Traffic backs up on Metropolitan Parkway, just east of Dequindre Road, where a road construction project is underway.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

New batch of road fixes on city’s radar

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 11, 2022

STERLING HEIGHTS — The battle to maintain Sterling Heights’ roads doesn’t stop, and that means the city has a new list of roads to repair for the next five years.

During an April 12 Sterling Heights special budget meeting, city officials described their road construction plans.

City Manager Mark Vanderpool said the city has made lots of progress on its roads in recent years in part due to grants, the Safe Streets millage and other sources of funding. And he added that “it’s going to be a very busy road construction season” this year, too.

City Engineer Brent Bashaw explained that 2022 ends a multiyear road repair campaign stemming back to 2014 that took about $454.5 million in total funding to complete. Roads that got attention included parts of 19 Mile, Canal and Dodge Park roads, as well as M-59, Van Dyke Avenue, Dequindre Road, Utica Road and 14 Mile Road, he explained.

This construction season, the city will spend around $41.8 million that will allow $128.9 million of work to be done, thanks to additional funding sources, he said. Mound Road is most noticeably being repaired via the Innovate Mound project, particularly between M-59 and north of 15 Mile Road, he said.

According to officials, other major projects include Hayes Road from 18 Mile Road to M-59, Metropolitan Parkway from Dequindre to Ryan Road and from Van Dyke to Dodge Park Road, Ryan from 14 Mile to Metro Parkway, and Plumbrook Road from Van Dyke to Utica Road.

Besides repair projects, Bashaw said, the city will work on a pedestrian safety study for the Dodge Park Road and Utica Road area.

“This area sees a lot of foot traffic with destinations such as the city center facilities, Dodge Park and Stevenson High School on the route,” he said, “and Utica Community Schools is a partner with us on the study.”

Bashaw said Sterling Heights is also planning to put a pedestrian crossing and refuge island in the area of 15 Mile and Van Dyke, and it plans to study the possibility of adding bike lanes to Plumbrook Road. Lastly, the city will pursue a general traffic calming study, Bashaw said.


The new long-term plan
A new five-year road plan for 2022-26 will cumulatively spend $206.5 million and will be paid for with multiple funding sources, including federal monies and state Act 51 dollars, Sterling Heights officials said.

For instance, in 2023, the city would pay $16.8 million for $54.4 million of work. The 2023 plan calls for Mound from 14 Mile to north of 15 Mile, Ryan from Metro Parkway to 18 Mile, 14 Mile from Maple Lane Drive to Hayes, Schoenherr from 19 Mile to M-59, 17 Mile Road bridgework over the Plumbrook Drain, and other repairs.

The city plans to spend $3.9 million out of $8.3 million of work for major roads in 2024, $3.9 million out of $9.25 million of work in 2025, and $4.2 million out of $5.7 million of work in 2026.

“Just to reiterate, this five-year plan is fluid,” Bashaw said. “It will be re-evaluated annually based on needs, funding levels and funding sources.”

In addition, an estimated $5.2 million will pay for around 3.5 miles of repairs on 20 local streets during the 2022 construction season, he said.

After Bashaw’s presentation, Councilman Michael Radtke said he wants to see a needs assessment of city roads and pointed at the costs of upkeep on expanded roadways.

“If we keep expanding roads, we’re just going to induce people to drive on these roads, which then forces us to continue expanding them and continue reconstructing them,” he said, later adding:

“And I’m wondering, have we studied and actually decided that we need all the roads that we have currently? Do we need to keep adding lanes? Could we take lanes away? Could we change our local road structure?

“Because it strikes me, right now we’re throwing more money after more money after more money into our local roadway system. And if I ask the average resident of Sterling Heights, they won’t tell you it’s improved. All I hear are complaints.”

Councilwoman Maria Schmidt said she wants the county to address the bridge over the railroad tracks on Metro Parkway west of Van Dyke, adding that the bridge’s walls and median were in “crumbling, unsafe conditions.”

“They are crumbling powder,” she said. “It’s not aesthetics anymore; it’s a safety issue. You have people going up and over train tracks, and it is just a matter of time before it’s not going to take much for a car to go through. … It’s an unsafe situation. The bridge may be stable, but those walls are not.”

Councilman Henry Yanez said he wanted to know whether there were any plans to fix the Schoenherr Road bridge over the Red Run Drain, south of 15 Mile Road. Bashaw said he talked to the county and had heard that they applied for federal money for repairs, but he said he would follow up on that.

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