A new sidewalk rests atop a new bridge earlier this summer over the Evans Branch of the Rouge River on Nine Mile Road, between Lahser and Telegraph roads. The road was closed for a year during the $8 million project.

A new sidewalk rests atop a new bridge earlier this summer over the Evans Branch of the Rouge River on Nine Mile Road, between Lahser and Telegraph roads. The road was closed for a year during the $8 million project.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Southfield officials provide update on road, infrastructure improvements

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published October 2, 2019

 Officials said the elevation of the bridge was raised by 8 feet to prevent flooding.

Officials said the elevation of the bridge was raised by 8 feet to prevent flooding.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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SOUTHFIELD — It’s been five years since voters adopted a $99 million road bond, and officials say the city has a lot to show for it.

At the Sept. 23 Southfield City Council meeting, City Engineer Leigh Schultz presented an overview of the various capital improvement projects that have taken place since the bond was adopted.

“We’ve accomplished a lot since 2014,” Schultz said. “If we start with 2014 … that  was really the year that marked the heavy investment in our public infrastructure.”

Since then, 81 miles of city roads have been improved and 173,000 feet of public water main has been installed.

Schultz said the city has invested a total of $185 million in projects, and $63.5 million of the road bond has already been spent. Next year, the city is expected to spend $16 million from the road bond.

And that’s just the work that has been completed, Schultz said. Currently, there are 18 miles of roads under construction, along with 50,000 feet of water mains, which are slated to be wrapped up in 2020.

“The impressive number here, to me, from 2014 to 2019, that $185 million investment — $27 million of it was using outside funds for our infrastructure, and those outside funds were predominantly invested into our road system,” she said.

On average, Schultz said, the projects are tracking 6.87% below authorized funding.

“Overall, we’re pleased with where we are,” Schultz said.

Schultz said 31% of major roads and 33% of local roads have been addressed thanks to the bond, with a total of 63 projects over the last five years.

“This is why we’ve been so busy,” she said.

Along with the roads, crews have been working to replace sewers and water mains, with 42 miles of water mains to be replaced by 2020. Schultz said the city is trending downward for water main breaks.

Schultz said the city is taking a more progressive approach in replacing sewer liners. Councilman Dan Brightwell asked Schultz exactly what the liners do.

In a nutshell, the liners make the pipes stronger, she said.

“They are installed inside the pipe. They have structural capacities, so even in the future if the pipe starts falling apart, that liner now becomes your pipe, and they have about a 50- to 100-year life span, depending on the product and who you’re asking,” she said.

Over the next three years, Schultz said, crews will be working on another 42 miles of roads.

“We just need to rethink our strategy and stay focused on the rehabilitation of the roads more than the reconstructions, and that’s just keeping in mind our pavement management philosophy,” Schultz said. “So we’re spending our road dollars wisely and making these road dollars last as long as possible.”

Mayor Ken Siver thanked the voters for passing the bond in 2014 and said it gave the city the ability to apply for grant funding for the projects.

“I know we’ve inconvenienced a lot of people with our road construction. Obviously, it’s very necessary,” Siver said. “We have led Oakland County in road construction for the last five years, so we’re way ahead of other communities. Matter of fact, before the meeting tonight, someone came up and said thanks for fixing the roads. They’d moved and come back and seen the results of five years of work.”

A list of current construction projects can be found at cityofsouthfield.com.

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