By Jim Newell
Plans are moving forward on the M-24 reconstruction and resurfacing project slated for 2020, with officials from the Michigan Dept. of Transportation and the engineering firm heading the project hosting a public information meeting Thursday at the Oxford Public Library.
The M-24 project will extend from Goldengate Street in Orion Township north to Harriet Street in Oxford Township, encompassing the villages of Lake Orion and Oxford.
Lori Swanson, projects and contracts administration engineer MDOT, said the entire project is estimated to cost $23.5 million and will go out for bids for construction contractors in December 2019.
“We’re still one year out from going to bid on the project,” Swanson said. “We will be doing a lot of project outreach as we get going to keep people abreast.”
MDOT will conduct a rehabilitation project involving 2.759 miles of M-24 from Goldengate Street to Drahner Road, milling the road down 3.5 inches and replacing it with new asphalt to extend the life of the highway. During the work, two lanes of M-24 traffic – one northbound and one southbound – will be maintained.
The Orion portion of the project also includes installing crosswalks across M-24 at Paint Creek Dam and near the Broadway/M-24 split, with a raised 8-feet wide median/pedestrian refuge dividing traffic, according to MDOT concept plans.
Plans also include widening the Paint Creek bridge sidewalks and installing pedestrian signage and crosswalk markings.
Traffic lanes from Broadway to Flint Street will be 11 feet wide and 12 feet elsewhere along M-24.
Lake Orion Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Molly LaLone said that the village and DDA will work to help motorists and shoppers navigate their way through construction to the downtown district.
“We’re not expecting the resurfacing to last a real long time, but we will put up some signage,” LaLone said. “We’ll put up signs explaining how to get downtown.”
LaLone said she is discussing with the DDA Advisory Board ways to help promote the village businesses during construction and lessen the effect of construction.
“I think we’re planning to do some promotional and marketing campaign,” she said, adding that the DDA has already begun putting up wayfinding signs to direct drivers to the business district and parking lots.
MDOT will also undertake the full reconstruction of 1.65 miles of M-24 in Oxford from Drahner Road to Harriet Street, just north of the village. The existing road will be completely removed, taken down to the dirt, then rebuilt.
Through downtown Oxford, the project includes a new streetscape, curbs and sidewalks in front of area businesses and Orion drivers who travel through Oxford should expect longer delays.
“Basically, from building face to building face it will all come out,” said Troy Van Orman, project engineer for the engineering firm AECOM.
During construction, there will be one lane open on southbound M-24 from Harriet Street to Drahner Road.
Northbound traffic would be detoured east onto Drahner Road, then take Oxford Lake Drive., Glaspie Street and N. Oxford Road to Ray Road where it would head west to reconnect with M-24.
The “cut through” streets also will be open, so motorists can cross from Glaspie to M-24 and head south to their destinations, Van Orman said, adding that Drahner Road west of M-24 will also be open to traffic.
Utilities relocation in preparation for road construction is expected in 2019, while construction is slated for April through November of 2020, Van Orman said.
MDOT and its engineers have planned a utilities meeting in early 2019 and will evaluate whether any portion of M-24 will be closed during relocation.
Resurfacing and reconstruction of M-24 may be concurrent between the Orion and Oxford portions of the project or done one after the other.
“That depends on the staging of the contractor. Some work may be done concurrently between Orion and Oxford, but there will likely be some overlap,” Van Orman said.
“I think this M-24 project is an outstanding opportunity for our community. It’s a $23-plus million project from one end of our community all the way to Lake Orion,” said Oxford Village Council President Joe Frost.
Frost added that one drawback is that “there is not a real good north-south road that’s beside it. Baldwin (Road) is probably the next closest. The next closest trunk line is M-15 or M-53, so it will be a little bit of a challenge. But we like challenges, right?”