Reconstruction of Stephenson Highway begins

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published May 10, 2019

 Stretches of Stephenson Highway are deteriorating. City officials say that the project is necessary and will be funded by a mix of federal and local funding.

Stretches of Stephenson Highway are deteriorating. City officials say that the project is necessary and will be funded by a mix of federal and local funding.

Photo by Deb Jacques

MADISON HEIGHTS — A federal grant has been awarded through Oakland County to the city of Madison Heights for the rehabilitation of Stephenson Highway, to be completed in two parts.

The work was expected to begin May 13, after press time, taking about 14 weeks to complete.

The first phase focuses on northbound Stephenson Highway from 12 Mile to 14 Mile roads, while the second phase focuses on southbound Stephenson Highway from 14 Mile Road to Girard Avenue.

Each phase will include the application of hot mix asphalt, cold milling and resurfacing work, as well as joint repair, concrete curb installation and gutter work.

The project is being funded in a roughly 80/20 split, with the federal government covering nearly 82 percent of the cost. The federal share is nearly $1.44 million, while the local share is estimated to be $321,300.

“Due to the construction on Interstate 75, the traffic impact on Stephenson Highway is expected to be significant,” said Corey Almas, deputy director of the Madison Heights Department of Public Services. “One lane of traffic will be maintained in each direction throughout the duration of the project, with no detours anticipated at this time.”

Robert Corbett, a member of the Madison Heights City Council, said that all parties involved are trying to minimize the inconvenience.

“Both the state and city are working to ensure that all businesses along Stephenson will be accessible. But I think rush hour commuters will need to pack their patience along with them on the drive,” Corbett said. “From the plans that staff and City Council have reviewed, the public should be pleased with the end result.”

Almas said the work is needed.

“Although some of the existing pavement on Stephenson Highway might appear to be in decent condition, there are long segments of the asphalt pavement showing signs of severe surface failures and distortions, multiple longitudinal and transverse joint cracking, rutting, and alligator cracking. All of which would require extensive temporary repairs if this project wasn’t slated.”

Brad Brickel, assistant consulting city engineer, added that curb restoration, catch basin repairs and sidewalk improvements in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act are other items being worked on.   

The project came about when the Oakland Federal Aid Committee released a “Call for Federal Aid Projects” that allowed communities within the county to submit applications for the grants.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is also involved, reviewing the designs and bidding process and handling contractor payments and compliance oversight.

“The grant has provided the city an excellent opportunity to make a long-term fix to a heavily traveled road that is in much need of repair, and for a fraction of the cost,” Almas said.

Corbett reflected on how the road has changed over time.

“I remember when I was a child, Stephenson Highway was a two-lane asphalt (road) that bridged small towns in south Oakland County. Nostalgia aside, in my lifetime Stephenson has grown and expanded into a vital roadway feeding economic development from our end of the county to north Rochester and beyond,” Corbett said. “Maintaining its viability is essential for both commuter and economic interests throughout the region.”

Added Mark Bliss, the mayor pro tem of Madison Heights: “The timing is terrible with the state moving up the I-75 construction, but this grant is something we couldn’t turn down. The federal investment gives us the opportunity to have this road repaired without it having a significant effect on our budget.”

He said there will be challenges with traffic this summer, but the long-term impact justifies it. Other road projects this year include work on 13 Mile Road from John R to Dequindre roads, sectional repairs on 11 Mile Road from John R Road to I-75, and Lincoln Avenue from Wolverine Street to the Interstate 696 service drive.

“Our roads budget is generally stretched pretty thin,” Bliss said. “So anytime federal, state or county money becomes available for a project, it’s a positive for our city and residents.”