FRASER — What’s taking so long?
That’s one of the most frequent complaints posed to Michigan Department of Transportation spokesman Rob Morosi about a road construction project, such as the current one on Groesbeck.
Morosi said the task of maintaining the complex “matrix” of access points to businesses and side streets complicates construction, and consequently adds to the time of the project.
“The one thing that the public takes into account, we hope, is that we have to maintain access to businesses,” he said.
MDOT-contracted crews began the multi-million-dollar resurfacing project in March, and the project is projected for completion in October.
All told, the project entails resurfacing and redoing the curbs along a three-and-a-half-mile section of Groesbeck (M-97) from Hayes to 14 Mile. Almost all of the work takes place in Roseville and Fraser.
The project will take place in three stages: resurfacing the southbound lanes, resurfacing the northbound lanes and resurfacing the center-turn lane. The resurfacing process includes milling off existing asphalt, then laying a coarse under-layer, laying the smoother top layer and, lastly, painting the lines.
Besides resurfacing the roadway, MDOT officials say the project includes improving road drainage, curb and gutter replacements, some driveway reconstruction, water main replacement and a right-turn lane at 13 Mile. The $13.5 million project is being paid for with roughly 80 percent federal dollars and 20 percent state dollars.
“It’s a lot of work out there,” added Colin Forbes, a senior projects and contracts engineer for MDOT. “If we were able to shut down the entire roadway, that time would be reduced significantly — probably close to half.”
Though road access to all businesses will be maintained, not all drives to a single property will be open at all times.
Forbes said MDOT decided, after garnering input from local business owners and city government officials, that it would maintain two lanes of traffic in each direction throughout the duration of the project.
Crews also are working on sidewalks and replacing curbs at side streets along the the length of the project. Per law, curb ramps must have detectable warnings, or dome-shaped bumps, making them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act when federal dollars are used.
Contractors have met some challenges so far. Construction crews discovered some unexpected underground utilities, and others that weren’t in the location they were expected to be. “That definitely created some challenges. Fortunately, we’ve been able to work through those,” he said.
To help move the work along, Morosi added, crews began replacing outdated traffic signals during the winter. But programming on the traffic signals and pedestrian lights — done in coordination with Macomb County — also took longer than anticipated because the initial programming did not meet MDOT standards, he said.
However, Forbes said construction is on schedule to conclude in October, despite some delays. Lane shifting and closures may cause some traffic backups during peak travel times, like the morning and post-work rushes.
Forbes said the crew would be working on the southbound lanes for a few more weeks before moving on to the northbound side.
In the section of Groesbeck in Fraser, between 13 Mile and 14 Mile, the city decided to take up the cost of replacing a mile of water lines that run alongside Groesbeck. As of press time last week, new water mains had been laid and all but a few businesses along the corridor had been connected to the new system.
Fraser City Manager Rich Haberman said the city saved about a quarter of a million dollars by piggybacking on the MDOT resurfacing project.
Haberman said the city also benefitted by MDOT doing the sidewalk and curb repair.
“Essentially, the work they have to do, we won’t have to do,” he added.
Forbes encouraged drivers to avoid distracted driving and to note that the speed limit along the stretch has been reduced from 45 to 35 mph.
“There’s a lot of family people (working) out there, and we’d like to continue as safe a record as possible,” he said.
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