Mayor Brian Marl, City Manager Todd Campbell and several other municipal staff and guests met with members of the local media at city hall Monday morning in an effort to provide information about the forthcoming Michigan Avenue reconstruction project slated to begin in mere days.
Though a solidified start date was not available as of Monday, according to the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce the actual commencement of the work is likely to be April 25 and extent through late october.
Marl began the meeting by underscoring just how valuable of an asset the newly rebuilt road and surrounding infrastructure will be to the city.
“I think at the end of this we are going to have a streetscape and a road that serve this community well for decades to come, and that’s what’s important,” he said.
The $11.1 million project will span from approximately Maple Road westward all the way to the east side of the Saline River Bridge.
The scope of the endeavor will include:
- A complete reconstruction of the pavement and subbase
- Drainage upgrades
- Replacement of the 100-year-old water main
- New storm sewers and portions of new sanitary sewers
- Streetscaping and landscaping
- A non-motorized path and pedestrian lighting
- Traffic calming elements and modernized traffic signals
- Additional turn lanes and pedestrian crosswalks
- New signage and pavement markings
- New curbs, drive approaches and sidewalks
- Widening to five lanes from Monroe Street to Harris Street
Of the total construction costs, just under $9.7 million will be funded federally by MDOT, while Saline is covering just less than $1.5 million. MDOT also awarded $539,602 enhancement grant for streetscaping for $539,602.
Traffic will be rerouted for the duration of the project, as explained in the city’s press release.
One lane on US-12 from Monroe to Maple will be open for westbound traffic only. All eastbound traffic will be rerouted to Henry Street, according to the city
Campbell said temporary traffic signals will be installed to manage traffic flow on the detour through the neighborhood, and that extra police will patrol the area. Funding for the additional police hours comes via MDOT, according to Campbell.
Marl said everyone involved with the project will work to ensure life remains as normal as possible despite the temporary inconvenience of the construction process.
“This is an important project and projects of this size and magnitude have an impact on the community both short term and long term,” he said. “There are going to be some inherent hardships and challenges, but we’re going to get through it working with our community partners and with MDOT.”
Making sure that downtown businesses continue to be patronized throughout construction is critical, Marl said.
“One of the things that I’m doing on a routine basis when I talk to people about this project is really to encourage our citizens, our residents, to continue to come downtown during the construction,” Marl said. “We’ve got some really iconic, important, unique businesses and they need to be supported.”
Campbell wholeheartedly agreed.
“Human nature is that when you see construction, the first thing you think about is ‘well, I’ll come back later,’” he said. “The problem is, I think, as most of us know, is that if too many of us do that, some of the businesses won’t be there.”
A major push to keep business flowing is being made collaboratively by Saline Main Street and the city’s Construction Task Force, which is comprised of members of various community organizations.
The program, called “Pave It Forward,” encourages people to continue visiting local businesses by incentivizing their loyalty.
“Shoppers collect their receipts from participating businesses and then redeem them for contest tickets at one of the three redemption centers,” according to the promotional flyer.
The tickets are then entered into a raffle to win a cash prize. Shoppers can win $250 each month in June, July, September and October, $500 in August, and $1,000 at the grand prize drawing to be held in December.
Downtown business owners such as Karen Carrigan of Carrigan Café are also working hard to get the word out about supporting Saline’s local economy during the transitional time.
“Remember to shop local as often as possible,” she said, pointing out that people still certainly need their coffee. “During the Michigan Ave. makeover we will be open for normal business hours from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and we offer and encourage call ahead ordering for any size orders.”
All parking lots will stay open for the convenience of patrons, and Campbell said the myriad of downtown special events will take place as close to their usual locations as possible.
Those with internet access will be able to view the construction progress any time, Campbell said, by way of a live streaming camera that will be affixed to the top of Mangiamo Italian Grill. The link to the camera will be available at the city’s website, www.cityofsaline.org.