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The Main Avenue project consists of a comprehensive refresh of the downtown district from State Street to east of Maple including new sidewalks, landscaping, light poles and bollards, irrigation, and asphalt paving. In addition to refreshing the existing infrastructure, we will be expanding the theme of our downtown district into the block from Centennial to Maple which will introduce angled parking on the northside of Main Avenue and a mid-block crossing. While this in itself is transformational, as part of the project the sidewalks, crosswalks, and mid-block crossings will all be reconstructed with snowmelt throughout the expanded district.
First, as described this is not strictly a snowmelt project. While snowmelt is a component of the Main Avenue Project, it is a portion of a much larger project. Our current sidewalks, planters, light poles, and driving surfaces are roughly 20 years old, and while they are well maintained, most of them are reaching the end of their useful lives. The road surface needs to be replaced, trip hazards throughout the district continue to emerge, and other aspects are just getting tired.
In addition to the need to update some of the facilities, we are experiencing unprecedented growth in our downtown district, especially east of our traditional downtown. This growth has led us to evaluate what our greater downtown district looks like and what it would look like to create four blocks of downtown with a consistent feel and theme. This project will assist in accomplishing this theme.
Finally, we have decided to add snowmelt to the project after numerous years of thoughtful decision making. Snowmelt will be a complimentary feature to attract and retain current and future development.
The Main Avenue redesign/refresh project is moving along nicely and will continue into 2024 with the primary blocks of construction being Church to Elm and Elm to State. As the project has started to take shape (physically) and will continue to progress to the west in 2024, we thought it would be good to remind our citizens of our priorities around this project from a street design standpoint (in addition to sidewalk snowmelt), based on a planning study we commissioned in 2022.
We thank you for your ongoing patience during this exciting construction project. We understand that road construction is messy and can be frustrating at times. We hope however, that you will join us with excitement on what these improvements will do to further support the growth of downtown and create safer areas for vehicles and pedestrians.
The budget for the project is $10.2 Million.
The project is expected to begin in June of 2023 and extend through the 2024 construction season with the intention that the work east of Church will be completed in 2023 and the remainder of the project will be completed in 2024. Depending on the severity of the winter construction activities will take a break during the winter.
Generally speaking, the funds for this project have come in the form of unbudgeted Personal Property Tax Reimbursement payments from the State of Michigan. Since 2018, the City has received more than $6.5 Million from this unbudgeted revenue source. The remaining funds have come from either an unbudgeted surplus in the General Fund or in the case of Fiscal Year 2024 a budgeted transfer from the General Fund.
While it may seem more desirable to reconstruct the central block of the downtown district first, we have chosen to do the easterly block for several reasons including:
Except for an 8-week closure of Main from Centennial to Maple during the summer of 2023, at least one lane of traffic will be maintained throughout the entire project.
We are planning a phased approach to construction and are expecting block-by-block phasing to minimize disruption. We do realize though that some overlap between blocks will occur throughout the project in order to minimize the total disruption time to the Downtown. Parking spaces adjacent to the construction activities will be blocked off to facilitate contractor construction activities. Front door or partial driveway access will be available throughout the course of the project when feasible but realize there may be times when front door access will not be available (i.e., during snowmelt tubing installation and during the pouring of concrete). During periods between sidewalk removal and reinstallation and there is no concrete surface, access may be by temporary gravel, plywood walkways, or through other means. Downtown patrons and property owners are encouraged to use rear entrances throughout the duration of the project.