By TOM TIGANI
Sunday Times Newspapers
The grief might last a little longer than a short term for some, but state officials say the eventual relief will be worth it once M-39 (Southfield Road) is rebuilt between Porter and Pinecrest streets in Lincoln Park and Allen Park.
Crews began mobilizing Tuesday for the $16.5 million project, which includes rebuilding the concrete pavement and barriers and utility upgrades on the 1.75-mile stretch that lies between I-94 to the north and I-75 to the south. Mobilization includes the installation of traffic control devices and fabricating and putting in signs, according Michigan Department of Transportation spokesman Rob Morosi.
Most likely all lanes of traffic will remain open until Nov. 10, but after that, in order to lessen the impact to commuters, residents and business owners, two lanes will be maintained northbound and southbound during peak travel periods. Some lane closures could start this week.
Utility relocation work will comprise a big portion of the project, Morosi said, as an existing storm sewer will be replaced with a new one.
“The road is definitely in need of reconstruction, as are a lot of the civil infrastructures throughout this area,” said Rick Lang, Allen Park’s director of public services/engineering. “Additional funding is badly needed.
“As for the M-39 project, a short-term inconvenience will result in a long-term benefit for many years to come.”
Closures will be “jumping sides” initially, Morosi said, but the two right lanes on each side will be open most of the winter. The two left lanes close will close in November until midspring, late spring or early summer.
In addition to the sewer work, new power lines will be run for traffic signals, Morosi said.
During construction, access to businesses on the corridor will be maintained at all times. And it’s the need for that access that typically results in daily rush-hour traffic slowdowns.
Morosi said while signal timing may be adjusted somewhat once the project is complete, motorists still will not be able to travel southbound from Allen Park to Lincoln Park without hitting a red light. About 41,000 cars a day travel that stretch between 5 to 7 p.m. weekdays, comprising about 30 to 35 percent of its overall traffic.
“Signals will be upgraded and modernized,” he said, “and sequencing will be taken into account. But for ‘Michigan lefts’, driveways and access roads, if you don’t allow for sufficient gaps, you’re going to have an increase in accidents.”
Speaking of the “Michigan left,” or “indirect left” as it’s known in the road business, safety improvements on the project include eliminating the long-standing direct left turn from northbound M-39 to southbound Dix Road. After construction, that turning movement will be replaced by a Michigan left, utilizing the median turnaround just north of the Dix intersection.
Morosi said the traffic signals will timed to minimize the likelihood of stopping for two lights.
Perhaps the greatest improvement involved in the reconstruction will be the elimination of the current poor drainage along the road, he said.
“Everybody will appreciate this,” Morosi said. “It’s the primary cause of the pavement being the way it is.”
Work will begin this fall and continue through the winter months on storm sewer replacement work. All lanes of M-39 are expected to open to traffic in November 2010.
For up-to-date information on the project, go to the list of statewide lane closures at: www.michigan.gov/drive.
Sue Suchyta contributed to this report.