Traverse City News and Events

City Commissioners To Talk Eighth Street Timeline, Costs

By Beth Milligan | Aug. 11, 2018

After verbally committing in May to reconstructing Eighth Street in 2019, Traverse City commissioners Monday will review a detailed timeline and budget for the project – including multiple phases of construction that will start with alley improvements this fall and culminate with the complete reconstruction of the road next summer.

City Manager Marty Colburn and City Engineer Tim Lodge will give a detailed overview of Eighth Street corridor projects and plans at Monday’s 7pm study session. The five-phase, multi-million-dollar approach to overhauling the corridor encompasses several individual projects scheduled to take place over the next 16 months. Phase one of the Eighth Street project – converting the Station Street alley that runs parallel to Eighth Street into an actual street with two travel lanes and parking – has already been completed. The remaining four phases, and their projected timelines outlined in a new staff report this week, are as follows:

Phase 2 – Alley North of Eighth Street, Fall 2018
City commissioners in May committed to spending $300,000 to reconstruct the north alley of Eighth Street between Boardman and Railroad avenues. That project is a key precursor to the reconstruction of the entire corridor, according to staff, as it will help maintain access to businesses and residences while Eighth Street is closed for reconstruction. “The project is scheduled to start construction after Labor Day and be completed this year,” according to Lodge. “DTE Energy and Traverse City Light & Power are currently working in the alley for utility-related improvements. DTE Energy has provided a financial contribution of $9,202.73 to the city for paving the area they disturbed with their work.”

One good piece of funding news could emerge for this phase of the project: Lodge says the city has learned “there may be legislative funding from the state of Michigan in the amount of $300,000” for alley work – the full amount city commissioners had allocated for costs. Lodge says staff are “working to confirm what work is eligible for this funding.”

Phase 3 – Lake Avenue Reconstruction/Streetscapes, Fall 2018
Traverse City commissioners approved the $1 million-plus reconstruction of Lake Avenue between Eighth and Cass streets at their July 16 meeting. The project calls for the complete reconstruction of Lake Avenue, as well as installing a new water transmission main, sanitary sewer, and storm sewer.  The new road will feature reverse angle parking on one side of the street, replacing the existing parallel parking; the Cass and Lake intersection will also be raised as part of the project. Lake Avenue has become a heavily used cut-through from vehicles going to and from Eighth Street.

Commissioners are next expected to approve a special improvement district for the project on August 20, which will assign property owners along Lake Avenue approximately $40,000 in shared costs for streetscape upgrades including new sidewalks, lighting, street trees, and grates. Lodge says contractor Crawford Contracting is expected to provide a construction schedule to the city for the Lake Avenue reconstruction by August 8, adding that “all work is scheduled to be completed by November 2" this fall. The city is working to prepare property owners “for the impact that construction will bring,” and is also talking with Traverse City Light & Power about installing conduits so that overhead lines on the south side of the street could be removed in the future, Lodge says.

Phase 4 – Eighth Street Bridge, Winter/Spring 2019
A rehabilitation project for the Eighth Street bridge – located near the intersection of Boardman Avenue – will include replacing the bridge deck and providing enough bridge space for the new Eighth Street design plan, which calls for three travel lanes, widened sidewalks, and cycle track. The bridge project also calls for adding pedestrian-scale lighting at street-level and lighting beneath the bridge on the riverfront public path, which will be raised to a higher level.

The estimated $1.47 million project is proposed to be covered by funding sources including $712,500 in state and federal grants, $150,000 in tax increment financing (TIF) 2 funds, $195,000 from the city’s capital improvement project (CIP) budget, and $423,000 from the city’s water fund. That amount would total $1,480,500, providing a $10,500 buffer. Lodge says final plans will be submitted to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to put out to bid in September or October. “This would allow construction to be scheduled for winter and spring of 2019,” he says.

Phase 5 – Eighth Street Reconstruction Between Boardman And Woodmere, Summer/Fall 2019
The final – and most impactful – phase of the project is also the one that has garnered the most public attention: the complete reconstruction of Eighth Street between Boardman and Woodmere avenues. That project is expected to cost just over $4 million, including both underground infrastructure upgrades like watermain and sanitary sewer replacement as well as street improvements planned by the public in a 2016 charrette process, including a protected cycle track for bicyclists and landscaping/streetscape upgrades.

The city is currently seeking engineering bids for the project through a request-for-proposals (RFP) process; bids are due by August 24. “We anticipate reviewing the proposals received and formulating a recommendation for consideration at the September 4 city commission meeting,” Lodge says. “We have discussed the duration of construction with several local contractors and understand that construction (on Eighth Street) will last at least 120 days.” Lodge says final engineering plans will need to be completed by February, with the construction project bid out in April. “Work could start in mid-July and be completed by the end of the construction season in 2019,” the city engineer says.

Lodge previously cautioned commissioners the project is going to be “enormously impactful” on traffic and businesses along the corridor, as Eighth Street will be “entirely shut down” while reconstruction is underway. City commissioners Monday will also consider available funding sources to help pay for the project. In a draft budget proposal submitted to commissioners, City Treasurer Bill Twietmeyer outlined a litany of potential funding sources to reach $4 million, including city stormwater and water funds, dedicated street millage funds, MDOT and state funding, traffic calming funds, and CIP funds that were previously dedicated for a proposed new Boardman Lake Avenue route that has since been abandoned by the city. Traverse City Light & Power is also expected to be a significant contributor to the project, with $225,650 allocated from the utility in the proposed budget.

Colburn told commissioners in May the city has the “ability to get Eighth Street” done if commissioners had the political willpower to commit to the project and dedicate funds to it. Commissioners have expressed their intent to do so, with Lodge also noting that costs for phase five can be refined in the coming months once an engineering consultant is hired. “We can fund this, (but) it may be painful, we may not like it,” Commissioner Brian McGillivary said at the May meeting. “But we have repeatedly told people we’re going to do this…that road needs to be fixed, and we just need to accelerate it and get it done.”

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