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.