Northwestern Highway Project Means New Road, Lots of Other Extras

Northwestern Highway Project Means New Road, Lots of Other Extras

The optimistic among us see road construction as a temporary inconvenience that is soon forgotten when we experience the silky-smooth ride of a freshly repaved roadway.

In the case of the Northwestern Highway project that begins late May, Southfield City Centre residents, visitors, and workers are getting a lot more than filled potholes. Following a “complete streets” philosophy, city planners and engineers are making the roadways more accessible for all users. Cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicle users will benefit from the many improvements in this plan.

Here’s what to expect:

  • Quality resurfacing. “The most important thing people want to know is if the Northwestern service drive will be resurfaced. Yes. There will be no more potholes,” says Leigh Schultz, P.E., engineer with the City of Southfield. “The existing concrete will stay in place, with a slab replacement, and a double layer of new asphalt overlay. That means a longer life than just a thin overlay would provide.”
  • Repaved driveway approaches. “Because we are coming up four inches on the road, the driveway approaches will be repaved for the businesses,” Schultz says.
  • Road diet. The segment between Mt. Vernon and Civic Center Drive will be reduced from three lanes to two, and a bike lane will be added. “With the traffic volumes this segment gets, we do not need three lanes, so we are striping it as a bike lane to get some non-motorized benefit,” says Schultz. The curbs here will remain the same, since this is not a total reconstruction.
  • Sidewalk gaps filled. This is the final corridor in the Southfield City Centre to have a major road project, and the bonus benefit will be continuous sidewalks for cyclists and pedestrians throughout. In total, 1,000 feet of gap will be filled.
    All sidewalks will be wide. Narrower existing sidewalks on Northwestern to Lahser will be replaced with 10-foot wide shared-use sidewalks.
  • Pedestrian improvements on the Mt. Vernon bridge. “What we are doing is making this bridge ADA-compliant by putting in ramps and filling in gaps,” Schultz explains. During construction, the bridge will be closed, and there will be detours posted.
  • At last, the Lawrence Tech campus will be connected to the City Centre. “There will be 150 lineal feet of sidewalk added to the north side of the 10 Mile Road bridge over Northwestern Highway, including the associated sidewalk ramps, to provide an accessible crossing of the freeway.  This provides much need connectivity from the LTU campus to the south part of the City Centre district,” says Schultz.
  • Intersection improvements. At Evergreen Rd., steel mast arms will replace the older-style wire spans for the traffic lights. Where steel mast arms are not installed, the traffic lights will be configured as a box span, rather than a diagonal span.
  • Forward-planning for connected vehicle technology. New signals will have the capability to proceed with emerging connected technology, as monitored and maintained by the Road Commission for Oakland County.

Expect this construction to impact travel, even though the Northwestern service drive will not be completely closed, there will be one to two lanes open. “The first week or two are hectic, as people try it to see how congested it is,” says Schultz. “It’s always best to avoid construction areas, and there are many good alternatives in the Southfield area.”

Overall, the project’s price tag is about $6 million, with the City Centre’s expected contribution being $60,000 toward the pedestrian improvements. “Federal dollars are what make these projects move forward,” says Schultz. “$1.7 million of this total amount is from federal funds.”

Check back in November for an update, when the project is complete. Soon after that, the inconvenience will be a distant memory.