Innovate Mound is an initiative to rebuild one of the most important corridors in southeast Michigan: Mound Road. The vision behind this effort is a roadway that incorporates the future of mobility and technology. It is being driven by a partnership between Macomb County, the City of Sterling Heights, and the City of Warren.
The construction of Mound Road will cost $217 million, which includes redeveloping the road between two state highways, M59 to I-696. Federal funding is critical to this major project. However, showing local and state support is imperative to being competitive in the funding application process.
“Sterling Heights, Warren, and Macomb have worked closely and we appreciate the support of all these entities,” said Mark Vanderpool, City Manager of Sterling Heights. “We want to work a little closer with the State on this project and, of course, our federal partners as well.” The partnership and need for the project was evident to state officials who toured the corridor in February.
The three grants sources being pursued include; the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant, the FASTLANE (Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies) grant, and the DAR (Defense Access Roads) grant.
It will take more than federal funding to reach budget goals. The cities of Sterling Heights and Warren are contributing a combined total of $15 million to the project. Macomb County will match the $15 million.
Every year the county is putting $3-4 million into Mound Road to patch up the road.
“That $3 million every year is an allocation of limited federal transportation dollars given to the county. If we’re able to rebuild the road and only do limited low cost maintenance (crack sealing and concrete seal coating) that would free up this $3 million in future years to be used to allow other roads to be rebuilt and result in the overall road network rating to move toward good,” said John Crumm, Director of the Road Department of Macomb County. “Essentially, we’re carving out quite a bit of our federal allocation every year to patch, and patching is not the long-term solution.”
Most roads have a life expectancy of 25 years. Mound Road has been around for 30 years.
Alternative lower cost fixes, like milling a few inches of concrete and replacing with a new asphalt overlay, are not an option for Mound Road as it was originally built with reinforced steel mesh supposedly located between the two concrete layers that compose the driving surface. However, when the second layer of concrete was poured the steel floated toward the surface and resulted in variation of depth making it impossible to ascertain the exact location to avoid in a milling process. The mesh presents an issue to the milling machine because if the machine pulls in any of the steel support, the teeth of the machine will be destroyed.
Finally, since the life expectancy of the road has long passed, mid-range short-term fixes don’t result in achieving further projected life expectancy that is typically garnered by these applications. Simply put, the road is outdated and the drainage no longer working properly and the only solution is to totally reconstruct and enhance the technologies in this corridor.
The Innovate Mound partners are working to keep moving forward with their plans to secure federal funding. The first grant application is due in May.
For more information, please visit InnovateMound.org/Contact.