Roads don’t last forever, especially roads like Saline’s Ann Arbor Street that carry heavy traffic year round. The section between Bennett Street and Thibault Lane is showing its age.
The section was last paved in 1981, so it has lasted 33 years. But time and especially the recent harsh winter have taken their toll.
“Once they start going, they go fast,” said City Engineer Gary Roubal. “And last winter was like three or four winters.”
Actually though, the planning to repave this section began three years ago. Roubal said it takes about three years to get through all the paperwork for projects involving state aid. The state will pay 80 percent of the roughly $600,000 cost of this repair.
The road qualifies for state aid because of its ranking in the state’s National Functional Classification, NFC. It is an important link connecting Route 12 to I-94.
Roubal called the planned work a “mill and resurface.” This means that only the top four inches of road will be redone and, except for minor repairs, the curbs will not be affected.
The work is expected to begin in mid June and will take about two months. No road closures are planned. The work will be done one lane at a time and flagmen will direct traffic around the work site. Businesses and homes will still be accessible.
One important change is that the repaved road will have five-foot bike lanes on each side. This will complete one more segment of the Saline’s Non-motorized Transportation Plan developed in 2009.
The city has a plan to incrementally add non-motorized trails that will connect various parts of the city and also tie into regional trails. This plan can be accessed by visiting the Saline Parks and Recreation Department website and finding it on the “Related Downloads” list at the right side of the page.
According to this document, “The benefits of non-motorized transportation whether for utilitarian or recreational purposes, can be defined in terms of improved environmental and personal health, reduced traffic congestion, and enhanced quality of life.”
The segment on Ann Arbor Street will connect to the Depot Trail and Library-Brecon Trail. Also, it will almost connect to the wide sidewalk on Woodland Drive.
Of course, adding bike lanes will reduce the space for cars. Roubal says that the extra width of many Saline streets make it easier to add bike lanes. On Ann Arbor Road, however, it will mean elimination of the center lane.
“Years ago we had turned the wide two lanes into three lanes to have a middle turn lane,” Roubal said. “Now we’re just going to go back to a two lane. It will still have standard sized lanes.”
Road repairs are part of the cost of maintaining an active city. This project will have the added value of improving transportation for bicyclists.