MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLNS) – Driving through Okemos leaving you frustrated? You’re not alone.
Major road construction on a stretch of Grand River Avenue is proving disruptive for drivers and local businesses in Okemos.
Several blocks of businesses along the affected stretch of road have their parking lots completely blocked off.
Drivers must turn on nearby surface streets like Hillcrest Avenue, among other detours, to reach shops like Breadsmith or Pet Supplies Plus.
The construction also interrupts the intersection of Okemos Road and Grand River Avenue, causing surprised drivers to turn around using any routes available.
“It’s turned my parking lot into a racetrack,” said Breadsmith owner Kent Seggebruch. “People ignoring the construction signs come in southbound on Okemos Road, get in here, realize they can’t get across the intersection and then go through our parking lot at 20 mph.”
Dan Opsommer, Director of Public Works and Engineering at Meridian Township, said to achieve the goals of the road construction projects, a comprehensive closure at the intersection of Okemos Road and Grand River Avenue is required.
“Closing off all turning is the only way to make space for all of the necessary earthwork,” Opsommer said. “It’s as intense of a restructuring as you can have.”
Much of Meridian Township’s 2022 Local Roads Construction Plan, which broke ground in May, entails less complex resurfacing jobs and is expected to be finished in the fall.
But the intersection of Grand River Avenue and Okemos Road is a much bigger project.
The Grand River Avenue/M-43 Enhancement Plan, a partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation, involves raising the road up two feet to help curb flooding. The plan also brings major improvements to curbs, gutters and sidewalk ramps, in order to make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Storm water drains are also being replaced.
While Seggebruch said he has noticed a downtick in foot traffic to his shop, he is not upset that the construction is happening. Though he is concerned about the possibility of some businesses might not survive.
“I don’t feel the township is at fault for anything. Nobody is at fault, it’s just the perfect storm with the timing between the two projects,” Seggebruch said. “I’m not convinced that we won’t see a business or two go under.”
Opsommer said Meridian Township has kept residents and businesses affected by the construction in the loop via communications by the Department of Public Works.
A June 7 message from the department highlighted the specific roads being milled and resurfaced and provided instructions on how residents could avoid damage to personal property.
Opsommer said the Meridian Township Economic Development department has been taking questions and working with local businesses to create signage that will indicate access points.
“We want the construction to be as tenable and as easy as possible for everyone,” Opsommer said.
To stay updated with the 2022 Meridian Township Local Roads Construction Plan, visit the Meridian Township website.