Bryan Santo, the director of the Macomb County Department of Roads, speaks during a press conference about Innovate Mound June 4 near Mound Road and M-59.

Bryan Santo, the director of the Macomb County Department of Roads, speaks during a press conference about Innovate Mound June 4 near Mound Road and M-59.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Newly announced contractor to initiate Innovate Mound soon

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published June 23, 2021

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STERLING HEIGHTS — Completing it will be a hill to climb, but the reconstruction of Mound Road will be starting soon.

City and county officials gathered along Mound Road, near M-59, June 4 to celebrate the announcement of the Innovate Mound project contractor. Dan’s Excavating Inc., of Shelby Township, will be in charge of the job.

In a statement, Dan’s Excavating Vice President Joe Goodall said the company looks forward to working with the county on the project.

“We are proud to work on such an important project inspired by the innovation happening within the corridor every day,” Goodall said.

Innovate Mound is the fruit of multiple years of teamwork among Sterling Heights, Warren and the Macomb County Department of Roads. In a statement, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel lauded the collaboration among governments and called the project’s scope and impact “unlike any other local project in the U.S. and Michigan.”

“Once completed, the new Mound Road will strengthen the region and enhance connectivity by incorporating state-of-the-art design and smart technology to create a modern corridor that will serve our community for decades to come,” he said.

Innovate Mound has an estimated price tag of $217 million, and its architects expect lots to happen with that money. The project aims to go beyond reconstructing an estimated 9 miles of roadway and its accoutrements between Interstate 696 in Warren and M-59 along Sterling Heights’ northern border.

The project will widen the roadway in sections, and modify driveways and curbs. It will also adjust drainage in the area and make lighting more energy efficient. Even nonmotorized amenities, such as crosswalks, are scheduled to be enhanced.

In addition, the work will add cutting-edge smart technology that could interact with modern vehicle systems and infrastructure. According to the Innovate Mound website, this could do things like give drivers of modern vehicles real-time traffic info, make rush-hour traffic more efficient, or help emergency vehicles get to their destinations.

But don’t expect Mound’s renaissance to happen overnight. The project’s target completion is scheduled for 2024, and county officials, including Macomb County Department of Roads Director Bryan Santo, expect the results to last for around 30 years.

County officials expect to unveil later this summer a more detailed construction schedule of when the heavy work would begin, though they say work is expected to start “prior to the end of summer 2021.”

According to an email from Macomb County Department of Roads spokesman Eric Dimoff, the construction plan’s details are still being finalized. He predicts that work will take place in Sterling Heights this year.

Dimoff said that work will include a “temporary widening” of Mound from Dobry Drive to 15 Mile Road. It also will entail work on storm sewers and utilities, as well as widening Mound’s bridges over the Plumbrook Drain, he said.

“For the overall project timeline, the tentative schedule calls for work to start south of Hall Road, at Dobry Drive, and progress south, with segment one, from Hall Road to 18 Mile Road, in 2021,” Dimoff said.

“Segment two, from 18 Mile Road to 14 Mile Road, will start in 2022. Segment three, approximately 14 Mile Road to north of 11 Mile Road, will begin in 2023. Final completion and wrap-up work will be done in 2024.”


How Innovate Mound was innovated
The project’s genesis came in 2016, when business and community leaders convened to brainstorm and choose their priorities for Mound Road. Local officials have emphasized the role Mound plays in industry and manufacturing, especially for the auto, defense and aerospace sectors. According to the county, around 70 big companies are there, and the region overall supports over 200,000 jobs.

The result of the stakeholders’ synergy was a 2017 federal grant application for the proposal. The U.S. Department of Transportation authorized a $98 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant the following year. Sterling Heights, Warren and Macomb County agreed to pay matching funds.

Back in 2018, Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor joined Hackel for a press conference on Mound Road when Sterling Heights and the county agreed to enact a short-term, emergency $10.2 million Mound resurfacing project. At the time, officials said the project — spanning from north of 14 Mile Road to 18 Mile Road — was necessary just to avoid major pothole damage to cars.

Taylor explained that he has been pursuing the Innovate Mound project for around four or five years and “it did seem at times that it was never going to happen.”

But now that a contractor is ready to get moving, he said he is happy and looking forward to progress. He said the results will be great for businesses and residents along Mound Road.

“It’s kind of a wake-up call that we need to be spending this kind of money on infrastructure,” Taylor said. “The numbers are eye-popping, but that’s what it takes.”

Macomb County Commissioner Joe Romano, R-Sterling Heights, attended the Innovate Mound press conference and said the project is “a long time coming,” especially due to the road’s connection to the defense industry.

“Mound Road is where all the work goes on for our military people,” he said. “It’s time that we fixed it to the point that it’s going to be one of the nicest places to show around.

“It might take some time … but down the road, when it’s all through and complete, it’s going to be a project that all the residents are going to be very proud of.”

Find out more about Innovate Mound by visiting www.innovatemound.org. The Macomb County Department of Roads can be reached by visiting roads.macombgov.org.

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