As part of a project with the Michigan Department of Transportation, Pleasant Ridge aims to build a two-way cycle track from Sylvan Avenue northbound to Interstate 696. This rendering shows what the final development could look like.

As part of a project with the Michigan Department of Transportation, Pleasant Ridge aims to build a two-way cycle track from Sylvan Avenue northbound to Interstate 696. This rendering shows what the final development could look like.

Rendering provided by the city of Pleasant Ridge

Pleasant Ridge eyeing smaller streetscape project

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published June 22, 2022


PLEASANT RIDGE — A streetscape project on Pleasant Ridge’s section of Woodward Avenue has hit a bit of a snag.

Pleasant Ridge has been working on a streetscape and cycle track project on Woodward with the Michigan Department of Transportation for several years now. After a COVID-induced delay, the project was approved by MDOT in March. However, the bids came in much higher than expected.

The project’s original scope included the installation of a two-way cycle track from Sylvan Avenue northbound to Interstate 696, stormwater infiltration improvements, and streetscape and greenery improvements.

City Manager James Breuckman explained during a June 14 City Commission meeting that the bids for the project came in 80% higher than what engineers originally estimated. Compared to the estimate of $1.6 million, the lowest bid came back at $2.7 million.

In 2019, Pleasant Ridge received two grants to make these improvements on northbound Woodward: a Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy stormwater infiltration grant for more than $600,000 with a 40% local match, and a Transportation Alternatives Program grant for the cycle track for more than $400,000 with a 20% local match.

Breuckman said the grants Pleasant Ridge won were locked in at the cost estimates from before the pandemic. When the bid of $2.7 million came in, it meant the city’s match increased from $600,000 to $1.7 million.

“That was $1.1 million dollars over engineers’ estimate from 2019. That … is not in any way feasible, possible, desirable,” he said.

City Engineer Michael Smith with Anderson, Eckstein and Westrick Inc. stated that his firm has been seeing unexpected bids and high prices over the last couple of months in other cities as well. Issues at the moment include a lack of contractors available to complete jobs.

“We’re dealing with … the inflation issues. There’s also material shortages right now that we’re dealing with. So it’s just some crazy times for construction right now,” he said.

The city rejected the bids and is now beginning to decide the next step in the project’s process. According to city documents, there have been three options discussed. One is to rebid the project without changes in the fall, option two is to revise the project to eliminate the stormwater infiltration portion, and the third option is to cancel the project.

In terms of rebidding, Breuckman said the EGLE stormwater infiltration grant was based on federal funding and expires on Sept. 30, 2023, meaning the project has to be completed by then. If the city were to rebid in the fall for a spring 2023 start date, the window for completion becomes too narrow.

Breckman said Pleasant Ridge will abandon the EGLE grant and look to access additional TAP funding for the cycle track. In speaking with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, the city manager stated the organization will provide 80% of current project costs if it comes in at a reasonable estimate.

“We’re shooting for $1.7 million for the total project cost,” he said. “We’re being conservative. In other words, we’re estimating as if costs are going to remain as high as they were in our current bid and we’re hopeful that costs will actually come in a little lower in the fall, but we’re still estimating that, and if MDOT agrees to fund that then … SEMCOG would provide 80% of that cost estimate. That would put our local match at about $350,000 and then we would construct in 2023.”

Mayor Bret Scott told the Woodward Talk that going with option two benefits the city because it doesn’t really change the rest of the project.

“We’re able to proceed as planned, minus the (stormwater) infiltration part,” he said. “So there was some work behind the scenes to remove those pieces of the budget. … The work that’s ongoing now is to make sure that everything adds up correctly without the water infiltration work. And we could do that work at a later date.”

Scott confirmed the project is out to bid and that they are working out the numbers for the final grant total and Pleasant Ridge’s portion of the project.

The project now looks to be split into two phases. The first will be the cycle track with landscaping improvements. The stormwater infiltration items would be gone, which means the city doesn’t have as much excavation and underground work to be completed.

“We’ll still be providing those green spaces, just probably with some different plants that don’t require all the underground excavation,” Breuckman said. “Our goal is to install all of the trees that we were initially going to. So the project will look the same as it was planned to look. It just won’t infiltrate the water into the ground.”

The city match is expected to be between $250,000 to $350,000. Because Pleasant Ridge had budgeted for a $600,000 local match, this leaves the city with funding to conceptualize a plan for phase two of the project, which would include streetscape improvements from Sylvan Avenue southbound to the city border.