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  • By Lisa Brody

Second round of Maple work to begin in spring

The second phase of reconstruction in the downtown area of Birmingham, slated for Maple Road between Southfield Road and Woodward Avenue, should begin sometime in March 2020, weather permitting, and last approximately four months, with streetscape designs unanimously approved by the Birmingham City Commission at their meeting on Monday, September 23.

As in 2018, the roadway, underlying infrastructure and streetscape will be completely dug up and rebuilt. During the first phase, which rebuilt Old Woodward from Willits to Brown and the Maple Road intersection to Pierce Street, contractors discovered sewers and water pipes that were over 100 years old – some water mains were wooden, installed in the 1880s. In addition, sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting, planters, trees, handicap ramps, benches, chargers and other enhancements were added, as they will be in the second phase.

City engineer Paul O'Meara and representatives from planning consultant MKSK and design engineer Nowak & Fraus presented plans and designs to commissioners. The Southfield Road intersection will be reconstructed and realigned, and will have a crosswalk that will align with the city's other downtown crosswalks, 12-foot wide circular sidewalk surrounded by landscaping.

While it appeared that Maple had been redone from Old Woodward west to in front of Dick O'Dow's, in a memo O'Meara wrote that in the second phase design, the east edge of the parking spaces for this block, from Henrietta to Pierce Street, has been set as a two-lane street with parking, although an area begins to transition to a three-lane section. “The remaining space from that point to where the Phase 1 improvements end (about five feet) becomes too narrow to be used as a vehicular parking space. It is recommended that this transition area be used as an opportunity for scooter parking,” O'Meara wrote.

Commissioner Mark Nickita noted that new trees in the planter in front of Paper Source were not aligned with the other trees all the way down Maple.

“As we rebuild those, I suggest we rebuild those,” he said. “This alley of trees, these trees will be the only ones out of alignment.”

On the east side of Maple, between Old Woodward and Woodward, a mid-block crosswalk will be added, aligning with the via on the southern side of the street, by Pernoi.

O'Meara said they were able to get the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to agree to narrower lanes between Peabody and Woodward, to 10 feet, and to allow for expanded sidewalk widths there, from nine feet to 13 feet, which allows for planter boxes that will be consistent with the design being used on the remainder of the project.

Due to ADA-requirements, more handicap parking spots are being added, for a total of four more, as the street is being rebuilt. By national requirements, for every 25 parking spots, one handicap spot must be included. O'Meara said ramps are being included.

Commissioner Rackeline Hoff asked how many parking spots the city is losing due to this phase of reconstruction, and it was answered that they are losing six spots, going from 72 to 66 parking spots.

O'Meara said the city had been awarded two grants for this phase of the reconstruction, one a grant for $352,000, awarded by the Oakland County Federal Aid Committee, to assist Birmingham in the cost of reconstructing this major road.

“As a street with high traffic counts, combined with the need for general safety improvements, this segment of Maple Road qualified for a grant estimated at covering 80 percent of the cost of resurfacing this street,” he said.

The second grant, for $249,700, awarded under the Highway Safety Improvement Program, will cover 80 percent of the cost of reconstructing the Southfield Road at Maple intersection.

“Together, these two grants will cover about $600,000 of the city’s costs in reconstructing Maple Road. As a result, the project will be bid and paid for through MDO). The final construction plans will have to be reviewed and approved through MDOT, meaning that MDOT standards will have to be followed as a part of the design,” O'Meara said.

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