Sidewalks are scarce on the east side of Mound Road, just south of 19 Mile Road. The Sterling Heights City Council and Macomb County recently made a deal to get most sidewalk gaps filled on Mound’s east side within the city. However, this particular plan would leave 0.8 miles of gaps on the east side, between 18 Mile and 19 Mile roads.

Sidewalks are scarce on the east side of Mound Road, just south of 19 Mile Road. The Sterling Heights City Council and Macomb County recently made a deal to get most sidewalk gaps filled on Mound’s east side within the city. However, this particular plan would leave 0.8 miles of gaps on the east side, between 18 Mile and 19 Mile roads.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Sterling, county deal to fill more sidewalk gaps on Mound

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published September 8, 2021

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STERLING HEIGHTS — There were no shortcuts along the road to passing a cost-sharing agreement for Sterling Heights’ share of the Innovate Mound project to reconstruct Mound Road.

During an Aug. 4 meeting, the City Council approved a cost-sharing agreement among the city, Warren and the Macomb County Department of Roads, while giving Sterling Heights City Manager Mark Vanderpool the authority to sign any other relevant, related project documents in the future.

But the road to that approval didn’t happen right away. During a July 6 meeting, City Council members postponed a vote on the issue after hearing that the plans didn’t fill all of the sidewalk gaps along the east side of Mound in Sterling Heights. Council members unanimously postponed the topic again during a July 20 meeting upon further discussion of the topic.  


The project
The Innovate Mound project will reconstruct the Mound Road area between M/59-Hall Road and Interstate 696 from 2021 to 2024. City officials have estimated the project’s total cost at $217 million-$219 million. That includes not just roadwork, but also infrastructure, like drainage, lighting, signals, median enhancements, improvements for nonmotorized uses, and sensors for high-tech smart technology. Within Sterling Heights, the project also would add a fourth lane on Mound from 17 Mile to M-59.

According to city documents, Sterling Heights’ cost share of Innovate Mound road construction is around $41.1 million, and its related cost share of water and sanitary sewer improvements is around $11.3 million.

According to the city’s Aug. 19 Facebook post, Innovate Mound’s construction began that week with median tree removals, though it added that new plantings will eventually occur. Phase one will happen between M-59 and the Sterling Relief Drain, the city said. A press conference on the groundbreaking happened Aug. 26 at Chardam Gear Co. in Sterling Heights.


Minding the gap
During the July 20 meeting, City Manager Mark Vanderpool said that the plans at that time would fill all remaining sidewalk gaps on Mound’s west side within the city. In addition, about 1.1 miles of sidewalk gaps would be filled along the east side, though around 2.9 miles of gaps would remain, he said. The county has jurisdiction over Mound Road.

“There is concern about not having a full network of sidewalk on the east side, and thus we were directed to go back and try and negotiate more of a solid commitment to achieve a complete sidewalk on the east side,” Vanderpool said.

Vanderpool said the city and county engaged in talks to have additional sidewalks done. During the meeting, Macomb Deputy County Executive John Paul Rea said the county would seek to explore options to include sidewalk completion east of Mound.

“The east side provides a number of challenges and safety concerns that need additional consideration, analysis and also design elements,” Rea said.

Councilwoman Barbara Ziarko said she wants sidewalks on both sides of the road, but she doesn’t want to hold the Innovate Mound project up. She said she wants the county to make a written promise to make the sidewalk work happen in the future.

Rea said “pedestrian connectivity” is a priority, but the county had to make tough choices and give certain parts of the project up in order to not overspend. He said the county will keep looking at ways to uphold pedestrians’ safety.

“This is something that we did not take lightly. This is something that we understand does not fall in direct line with the priorities that council has itemized,” Rea said. “These are difficult decisions in the face of financial realities. Our objective is to implement the most impactful infrastructure asset we can at the most effective cost to all partners involved.”

Councilman Michael Radtke, who originally brought up the sidewalk gap issue July 6, said earlier Mound plans had complete sidewalks on both sides of Mound. He said he wanted the county to sign an agreement that it will commit to half of the sidewalk project, as well as provide a timeline.

Councilwoman Deanna Koski also wants a written agreement and a timeline.

“The people of Sterling Heights need that sidewalk. They will use it,” she said.


A path develops
At the Aug. 4 meeting, City Engineer Brent Bashaw announced that Macomb County issued a commitment letter and written agreement to design sidewalks and fill all east side gaps from 14 Mile to 18 Mile roads, which amounts to 2.1 miles of sidewalk. Bashaw said that “additional sidewalk can be constructed within the prime contract and provide for seamless installation before the Innovate Mound project closes out.”

City officials said Sterling will have to pay the sidewalk bill, currently estimated at $443,000, but Bashaw said the county will try to arrange some funding sources. The city will also have to “obtain the additional easements and/or grading permits,” he added.

With the new commitment, the only remaining gap on Mound’s east side in Sterling Heights would be 0.8 miles between 18 Mile and 19 Mile roads. Bashaw said that area is mainly industrial and would be pricier to do, but he added that the county said it would still help look at other chances to fund filling the remaining gap later.

Ziarko said the written agreement was unsigned, and she wanted to be sure that the commitment is solid. Taylor said he trusts that county officials wouldn’t “pull the rug from under us” and thinks the new plan works, is an improvement over the old one and is part of the Innovate Mound project.

“I have full confidence that we’re on the right track now,” Taylor said.

Radtke said he was frustrated with the county’s actions and that the city has to use its own money on the additional gap filling.

“We’re putting millions of dollars into the roadway for autonomous vehicles so someone can drive from Detroit to wherever on our autonomous vehicle road, and … we’re having to pick our pockets for $400,000 for regular people to walk around,” he said.

Councilman Henry Yanez asked how the city would pay for the additional sidewalks, and Vanderpool said the plan is to use some American Rescue Plan relief funds, with the expectation that other funding avenues could later offset that.

Learn more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489. See more of the Innovate Mound project plans by visiting innovatemound.org.

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