Innovate Mound project team members from HNTB Steve Griffith, senior resident engineer, and Ryan Sarmiento, assistant resident engineer, provided an inside look at their work with the Macomb County Department of Roads on the project as it prepares to head into the construction phase later this summer. Here is what they had to say about their work on the Innovate Mound project.
INNOVATE MOUND: What is your role on the Innovate Mound project?
STEVE: I was the deputy project manager through the preliminary scoping and engineering on the project. Now that the project is transitioning into the final design and construction phases, I’m stepping into the project manager role.
RYAN: My role is construction engineer and inspection deputy project manager. I’ll be working with Steve to be sure the work being done by the contractor is in compliance with the standards and specifications set forth in their contract.
INNOVATE MOUND: What is it like being part of the Innovate Mound team?
STEVE: Being able to support Macomb County on a project of this size and scope is an incredible opportunity. It’s not often that you work on a project where you have as much support as we’ve received from Macomb County, as well as the cities of Sterling Heights and Warren and MDOT.
RYAN: The team is composed of industry leaders who all share the vision to innovate Mound Road. The collaborative camaraderie between the County, contractors, subject matter experts, and others is what gets me excited about being a part of the team.
INNOVATE MOUND: What’s it been like collaborating with community members and other stakeholders on this project?
STEVE: It has been unbelievably positive. Many times, on projects of this size there is a lot of negative feedback from the community. On Innovate Mound there has been a lot of positive feedback and support from the community, including motorists, stakeholders, and residents. They’ve come to the table with their concerns and some great ideas, which have helped us shape this project to better address their needs and improve the corridor for all users.
RYAN: Community members and stakeholders always have concerns about projects like these, and rightfully so. So far, however, it’s been obvious that the community and other stakeholders understand the positive impact the completion of this project will have on their everyday life and businesses for years to come. Their support has been overwhelmingly positive, and that has a huge impact on how successful the project will be.
INNOVATE MOUND: What excites you most about the project?
STEVE: I’ve worked on this project since the beginning planning and scoping and will now have the opportunity to stay with the project through final completion., which is very rare. It is incredibly rewarding to be able to be involved with the preliminary planning of the project, and then be able to help make that plan become a reality.
RYAN: I wasn’t part of the preliminary planning. But, it isn’t often that you have the opportunity to be a part of the total reconstruction of one of the most important and iconic arterial roads in the state of Michigan. The corridor has such a rich history of innovation and being a part of adding to that history through such an innovative road reconstruction is exciting to me.
INNOVATE MOUND: What is the most challenging part of the project?
STEVE: There’s so much work we could do along the Mound Road corridor. And, the Innovation Council had a lot of great ideas in terms of new technologies and innovations we could incorporate. Finding the right scope of work to include that incorporates the necessary work to meet the INFRA grant requirements and honors the true concept of the project — which is looking at ways to innovatively transform the Mound Road corridor to serve not only those who drive the corridor, but also those live and work along the corridor – all while meeting the budgetary constraints of the projects is an incredible challenge.
RYAN: One of the biggest challenges of projects of this nature is maintaining access to businesses, residences, and other buildings during construction for all means of transportation, whether it is bus, vehicle, or pedestrian. The impact a project like this can have on the lives of those who use, live and work near it can be significant. Trying to ease that impact is definitely a challenge.
INNOVATE MOUND: What do you think members of the public and other stakeholders should know about this project?
STEVE: The Mound Road corridor was widely regarded as one of the worst stretches of roadway in the state of Michigan in terms of the condition of the road. County and local funds simply weren’t enough to continue maintenance let alone reconstruct the corridor. Macomb County leadership as well as their partners in the Sterling Heights and Warren looked at creative ways to capture additional funding at the federal level. This project would not be a reality without the leadership and initiative taken by County leadership. The efforts by Macomb County, and the cities of Sterling Heights and Warren to create a roadway that meets the current and future needs of those who drive, work, and live along it, while honoring the history of innovation that is present along the corridor is something to be proud of. I think that when it’s finished, Mound Road will set the standard for what an urban arterial industrial corridor should look like. And, it will be an example of what is possible when government entities, businesses, and members of the community work together to accomplish a shared vision.
RYAN: The public should know the results of this project will positively impact the surrounding communities and greatly increase the user experience through the corridor.
INNOVATE MOUND: How will using the Design-Build delivery method approach affect this project?
STEVE: One of the most important effects of the Design-Build method is that it allows construction to get started much earlier than other methods would. Consequently, this allows us to complete the project sooner. Obviously this is great news to those who drive, live and work along the corridor, but it is also important as there are required deadlines outlined in the INFRA grant requirements.
INNOVATE MOUND: Are there any ways this project has affected your role in an interesting or a unique way?
STEVE: Being able to work with the Innovation Council and others on cutting edge technologies that can be incorporated into the road has been interesting. Some of these technologies we won’t be able to incorporate into the project due to budget constraints. But, we are incorporating the necessary infrastructure so that the technologies can be added as additional funding becomes available. Or, they can be added or upgraded as technology advances. This is another way the Innovate Mound project is a testing ground. It will serve as a blueprint for how this type of pre-planning for future technology implementation can be incorporated into a project like this.
INNOVATE MOUND: What can we expect next from the Innovate Mound project?
STEVE: We’ve been talking about this project for about five years now. So, it’s really exciting to be able to say we’re going to be starting preliminary construction work soon! We’ll be hosting another public open house in late August to outline the plans, answer any questions, and address any concerns the public may have.
INNOVATE MOUND: Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us.
STEVE & RYAN: Sure thing. We look forward to seeing everyone at the Innovate 301 community open house in August.