By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
The coronavirus cancelled a lot of things, but it did not cancel or delay the M-24 construction project, which began on April 23.
“This road construction project is an essential function. Transportation workers in the field follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines to limit their risk of getting sick,” an MDOT news release stated.
The first stage of the project centers on the Drahner Rd. intersection where M-24 is down to two lanes.
The pavement is completely removed from the east half of the intersection. Storm sewer and water main work will be completed by the end of this week, according to the Downtown Development Authority’s newsletter Word on the Street.
The East Drahner intersection will be closed until about Memorial Day. Here are the detours and closures until then:
Both southbound and northbound traffic can still proceed through the intersection, but traffic is only one lane in each direction.
Southbound traffic can still turn right onto W. Drahner. Northbound traffic cannot turn left onto W. Drahner. To reach W. Drahner, traffic should take M-24 north, turn west on Burdick Rd., then south on Pontiac St. back to Drahner Rd.
Detour signage is in place for both eastbound and westbound traffic.
Eastbound W. Drahner traffic can turn left or right (north or south) onto M-24 (Lapeer Rd.), but cannot proceed across the intersection to E. Drahner. Instead, they must follow the detour north on M-24, east on Broadway St., south on Glaspie St. through the industrial district, then south on Oxford Lake Dr. to get to E. Drahner.
Westbound E. Drahner traffic cannot proceed through the intersection at all. Traffic must follow the same detour north through Glaspie St., then either turn west on Broadway and south on M-24 (Washington St.), or turn west on Burdick St., then south on Pontiac St.
Once the work at the eastbound intersection of Drahner is completed around Memorial Day, the West Drahner intersection will close and M-24 will be only southbound. Northbound traffic will be detoured for the remainder of the project.
The Leader will update on new detour routes as the project progresses. For detailed maps of detour routes, visit RestoreM24.com
Last week, skip patching was done on Glaspie St. to prepare the road for heavy detour traffic. Glaspie will be re-striped, with a center turn lane added before the main detour goes into effect. At the completion of the project, Glaspie will be milled, resurfaced, and the center turn lane will be removed.
Light poles are being removed from the downtown area in coordination with the Department of Public Works. The light poles will be refurbished before they are reinstalled at a later time in the project. Village Manager Joe Madore is working with MDOT to address concerns about lighting in the downtown area during the project.
This week, the subcontractor is scheduling inspections with downtown business and building owners along Washington St., to document the existing condition of the historic structures and their foundations along M-24. This will include videotaping both outside and inside the buildings.
At the Feb. 17 town hall meeting, Madore said this is happening because “MDOT is concerned with the historical structures and construction work and all the heavy work affecting the building foundations . . . So as the project proceeds there is clear record of the status of the buildings before they came. If there’s any damage assessment later on, there is a process MDOT has to deal with those and file claims and things like that.”
DDA Director Glenn Pape said, “Their intent is to document the foundation, the foundation walls, the basement floor, all of that. We also recommend that the business owner or the property owner do it as well.”
In addition to the video inspections, vibration monitors will be installed throughout the downtown area in order to regulate the vibration levels during construction and prevent damage to the buildings.
“Once it hits a threshold, they will reduce the vibrations. If it gets to a hyper-threshold, they will actually stop work to identify what’s causing the excess vibrations,” Pape said.
Letters to business owners regarding the vibration monitoring were mailed last week to update them about the scheduling. The Village is collecting current contact information from business owners to assist in the scheduling of these appointments. The Village posted a list of 52 business addresses along Washington St. that will be affected.
Inspections will follow social distancing guidelines, Pape said.
Major construction in downtown is about a month away, he added.
MDOT plans to open a field office somewhere in Oxford, but they have not picked a location yet.
Consumers Energy utility work is finished south of Burdick St., but they are unable to complete the tie-ins for businesses and residences north of Burdick St. until the stay-at-home order is lifted, since they will need access to businesses and residences in order to do that.
A virtual town hall is on schedule for 6 p.m. on May 18. Details about how to access the meeting will be posted to the Downtown Oxford Facebook page closer to the meeting.
The project is still on schedule to be completed by mid-November.
By James Hanlon