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10 Things To Know Today About Upcoming Main Street Construction

The official detour, the potential for a history lesson and the reason the road will only be closed for 90 days.

The Main Street Makeover is on its way.

In a recent presentation to business owners and community members, Rochester City Manager Jaymes Vettraino detailed the long-awaited rebuilding of Rochester Road.

It's set to start next month (an official "start date" should be pinned down in the next week). It will involve the rebuilding of the road from the Paint Creek Bridge to the Clinton River Bridge.

You can view Vettraino's presentation here. In the meantime, here are 10 things to know right now.

1. Main Street will be completely closed. The downtown merchants were surveyed early on in the planning process of the reconstruction; they opted "almost overwhelmingly," Vettraino said, for a total closure of Main Street for 12 weeks. The total closing will allow the project to be finished six to eight weeks sooner. That total closure will be from Second Street to University only.

2. This total closure will only last 90 days. The Michigan Department of Transportation has been "extremely generous" with incentives for the contractor to finish on time in that 90-day window, Vettraino said.

3. This isn't just about the businesses. Though much of the communication has focused on how the construction project will affect downtown business, the residents' concerns are just as important, city officials have said. "There's no such thing as 'just' a resident," Vettraino said.

4. Downtown won't look the same. First of all, the new road will be concrete; not asphalt, so it will be brighter. Streetscape improvements will include new LED lights, perennial planters, more bike racks, new crossings, signs and ornamental fencing.

5. Here's the bottom line. The project is budgeted at about $5.6 million. The rebuilding of the road itself will cost $3.3 million. An additional $1 million in enhancements are being funded partly by the Downtown Development Authority and partly through an MDOT grant. The city will contribute $1.2 million to replace an aging water main. There is also money built in for unexpected costs. That's the budgeted amount; the real amount will be known after the final bid is awarded to the contractor.*

6. You'll still be able to get downtown. The sidewalks will remain open throughout the project, though some parts of the sidewalk may be off-limits while water mains are being connected to downtown buildings and while the sidewalk itself is being replaced. Alleyways will soon be marked with pedestrian-friendly zones and many businesses have fixed up their back entrances.

7. The alleys are not an official detour. Though they've been reconfigured to allow easy access to the Main Street businesses, the alleys are not intended to be a cut-through. The official detour route will be Second Street to Water Street to University Drive. Walnut Street is a secondary detour route. (The detour is shown in a map attached to this story.)

8. History will be uncovered. "This is a really great opportunity to learn about our town's history; it's not often you get to go 8 feet below a town," Vettraino said. Over the years, Main Street has been overlayed; the original roadway is located below the street that's being torn up. City leaders have said they expect to find some treasures down below — including some of Rochester's original trolley tracks and maybe even the town's original public water cistern, which they believe is buried there. It was built in the mid-1800s.

9. There's no reason to be mad at Rochester Hills. It's true, the plans to rebuild Main Street were in the works before the plans to . And the full closures will likely overlap for at least a month, making travel across both towns difficult. But Vettraino said there was, literally, no way around it for Rochester Hills. "With the condition of the bridge and the opportunitiy to get the funding to replace that bridge, there was no other choice," he said.

10. Parking meters? What parking meters? Right now, the plan does not include re-installation of the existing parking meters along Main Street — or the purchase of new meters. "We're doing a little bit of an experiment," Vettraino said. .

* Clarification: The budgeted amount of the road work has been clarified from an earlier version of this story.

Kathy Bommarito March 16, 2012 at 11:06 AM
This is a very informative article about the upcoming construction. Very helpful!
RH Grandma March 16, 2012 at 11:56 AM
I see 2 big areas of concern -- the left turn from 2nd onto Water, and the left turn from University onto Walnut. Will they put in some sort of temporary traffic lights? Otherwise, the back-ups during rush hour could cause gridlock.
Janice Rex-Weaver March 16, 2012 at 05:51 PM
I was at the DDA meeting at the Royal Park hotel a couple of weeks ago and heard Jaymes and the whole team speak. They are dotting their 'i's and crossing their 't's for sure on this project. I feel completely assured that the city is doing everything they can to make this necessary project fast, efficient and safe. Way to go Rochester!
Kristin Bull (Editor) March 17, 2012 at 12:06 PM
We've clarified a few things in the story: the total closure of Main Street, remember, will only be from Second Street to University (although lanes will be closed throughout the project on the remainder of Main Street). Also, the total budgeted cost of the project is $5.6 million: the actual cost will be known once final bids are awarded to the contractor. Thanks to our friends at the city of Rochester for making sure the right info is out there!
David Gifford March 18, 2012 at 09:39 PM
You might try to avoid that intersection by taking Mill Street from First to the east where it lets out by the Fire Station.
David Gifford March 18, 2012 at 09:41 PM
It would be cool to find trolley tracks but most of them were removed during the war effort in the 1940's. However, the trusses the tracks sat on may be there still.
David Gifford March 23, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Do we know an exact date that Main Street will close? Seems like they are wasting a lot of early warm weather!
ceecee April 03, 2012 at 05:12 AM
Did I overlook the detour map?
Kristin Bull (Editor) April 03, 2012 at 11:20 AM
The map is attached as a photo to this story; it shows an outline of the detour route.
Kim May 14, 2012 at 02:35 PM
more bike racks why?? so the police can continue harassing the teens that like to ride their bikes?! my son was told to get a hobby... well opposed to what officer?? sitting home playing video games ?? he doesnt like to do that and would rather be out but yet everytime they ride through they get in trouble same with a skate board when did it become a crime??? this city wastes money on everything so why not then build these kids a outdoor skate park so they do not have to be harassed constantly??? this city has more money then they know what to do with there was nothing wrong with downtown the way it looked spend more money!!!!
David Gifford May 14, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Most downtowns have a rule that bicycles shouldn't be riden on the main street sidewalks. If Rochester has this rule, I have never seen it posted but bicycles should be walked, as well as skate boards, downtown because of all the pedestrian traffic. We really do need more bike racks to encourage locals and visitors from the trails to leave the cars at home bike to downtown. There aren't many places for me to lock up my bike when I ride into town. The bike racks shouldn't be on the main street sidewalks though, that sends a mixed message. They should be in back. There is a skate park on South Street but it is privately owned. There is an outdoor skate park on Squirrel just north of downtown Auburn Hills if that is an option. The reason they are redoing downtown is not a waste of money. The State of Michigan was going to rebuild the road regardless as it is a State highway. It is the only time the City of Rochester would be able to replace the 130 year old water main under main street and to connect the buildings to it, the sidewalks would have to be removed in places. Rather than have a patchwork of new and old sidewalk, it was good timing to replace all of it at the same time.

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