Old Woodward construction approved for spring

After a couple of years of planning, the Birmingham City Commission on Monday, January 8, unanimously approved the awarding of a $7 million contract to Angelo Iafrate Construction Co. for the reconstruction of Old Woodward between Willits and Brown for the 2018 construction season.

Weather permitting, the project is expected to start in March with underground work.

The approved contract with Iafrate calls for 125 days of work with a targeted completion date of July 27. The agreement includes significant financial incentives for early completion as well as substantial penalties if the work is not done on time. Other conditions in the approved contract include a six-day a week work schedule, with extended hours encouraged.

Angelo Iafrate Construction of Warren was the lowest bidder of three bids for the Old Woodward reconstruction project, city officials confirmed. Iafrate did the Woodward reconstruction in Detroit for the Qline; the 2012 reconstruction of Rochester Road in Rochester; and concrete reconstruction on M-59 in Macomb County, among numerous projects.

The planned road project will shut down the center of downtown Birmingham along Old Woodward from Willits to Brown, and Maple to just past the store Suhm-Thing and part of E. Maple. The road requires a complete reconstruction, similar to Pierce Street and Hamilton in previous years, in that these areas have some of the oldest water and sewer lines in Birmingham, as well as a streetscape that is on a different grade than the road. Much of this current infrastructure was installed in the 1940s and has exceeded its useful life – with some sewers dating to the 1890s.

Besides improvements, a center median will be added to Old Woodward, but commissioners said it will be smaller than the medians on N. Old Woodward between Oak and Willits in order to allow larger trucks better access in the downtown area.

One lane of traffic will remain open on Maple Road at all times, city officials have said, although Old Woodward will be closed to vehicle traffic. “Downtown will not be closed. The public will be able to get to their favorite locations,” Joe Valentine, Birmingham City Manager said. “We thank all of our stakeholders for their patience as we take this necessary action to improve our downtown core for the long-term.”

Valentine said the city has extensive plans to keep the project moving quickly as well as to keep the sidewalks, front doors of stores and parking accessible, as well as traffic and project updates available to the public on a regular basis.

Birmingham had budgeted over $7 million for the extensive road reconstruction project, and Paul O’Meara, city engineer, said the bid from Iafrate is about $180,000 lower than what was budgeted.

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