Major construction planned for M-53 in downtown Bad Axe
BAD AXE - More than 50 people crowded into Bad Axe City Hall Monday afternoon to hear how a major road reconstruction the Michigan Department of Communication has planned for downtown next year will impact their lives, their grass and their trees.
The construction, planned for M-53 from Outer Drive to Port Crescent Street/M-142, will result in a complete detour, said Project Manager Erich Smith, of WadeTrim.
“They’re going to completely rip out the road, curb and gutter,” he said. “They’re going to be underneath replacing the utilities.”
Construction is slated to begin next spring. The intersection at M-53 and Port Crescent will be blocked beginning May 20, and likely will open before the end of May. The entire project should be completed in August.
According to the presentation given by Smith, the construction project will include a paved center-lane turn lane, new driveway and side street approaches, minor grading beyond the right-of-way and a new traffic signal at the M- 53/M-142 intersection.
Underground utility work will include storm sewer, sanitary sewer, water main and minor relocations of natural gas and telephone lines and electric/light poles.
Despite the road being completely closed, res- idents will still be able to utilize the downtown area.
“If you live down there or need access to your house, there is always going to be local access,” Smith said.
Also, the parking lots will be upgraded to accommodate more use, and local businesses will be able to remain open, he said.
Although there will be minimal disruption to water and sewer service, Smith said MDOT will work with local businesses to plan outages for non-peak times.
While some business owners were concerned about the road closure and utility shut-offs impacting their businesses, the majority of fears voiced by residents during the meeting related to planned tree removal and destruction of grass. There are 13 trees and 13 stumps slated for removal.
According to MDOT Resource Specialist Cary Rouse said any grass that is removed will be replaced and guaranteed to grow. All trees removed will be replaced by two trees. She said MDOT will work with homeowners to select the types of trees they want, and she is currently planning to use sugar maple, basswood, Valley Forge American elm and two kinds of oaks. All trees are indigenous to this zone, and will grow to have a nice canopy, she said.
Also, she said, most of the trees marked for removal are already ill and would likely die within the next few years.
“Trees are living things. There is an end to them. It may not be today or tomorrow, but there will be an end,” she said.
Of the 13 trees MDOT plans to take down, eight are ash and are heavily infected with the emerald ash borer.
Trees slated for removal will be marked soon so homeowners can plan for where they will put the replacement trees.
The construction will result in some vibration in homes nearby. MDOT Cost and Scheduling Engineer Jackie Pethers said the contractor will be responsible if homes are damaged, and homeowners will be contacted to have a video taken of their home so they can be reimbursed for any damage that happens as a result of the construction.
A contractor will be chosen in February, and homeowners can expect to be contacted for videotaping shortly after that.
City Manager Dale VanDeVusse said residents will be kept apprised to the construction work, and they will always know beforehand if a service will be disrupted.
“We will do everything possible … including knocking on people’s doors, to make sure that everyone who will be affected knows what’s going on,”