Michigan gets $98M from feds to repair Mound Road

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News
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Southbound Mound road near 11 Mile Road in Warren is seen on Tuesday.

Relief for motorists who travel one of Metro Detroit's busiest arteries is on the way, in the form of almost $98 million in federal funds to fix the perennially pockmarked Mound Road.

A grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation -- announced by Michigan congressional representatives including Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden -- will help fund Macomb County's three-year, $184.6 million project to reconstruct and upgrade a nine-mile stretch of road from Interstate 696 to M-59.

Local contributors to the project include Macomb County, $43.3 million; Sterling Heights, $29.06 million; and Warren, $14.3 million.

Macomb County's Department of Roads spends $3 million to $4 million annually on maintenance and repairs of Mound Road, a 30-year-old, eight-lane artery that has its greatest concentration of traffic between I-696 and M-59. Daily traffic on some stretches of Mound in Warren and Sterling Heights tops 40,000 vehicles, according to traffic counts done in 2015 for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. 

If Congress approves the grant, the county's repair project is expected to begin in early 2020 and conclude by 2022. Besides rebuilding the nine-mile section of Mound, the project will include the installation of two pedestrian walkways, uniform lights and signs, and technology to accommodate a connected vehicles pilot project.

Local officials and commuters have long complained of potholes, pavement gap seams and other deterioration in the road, which travels through two of Michigan's largest cities, Sterling Heights and Warren. 

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said the grant is significant for two reasons. 

“First, it provides us with the needed funding to invest in our region's number one need: fixing our infrastructure," he said in a statement provided by Stabenow's office. "It also strengthens Macomb County's position as a leader in mobility."

In an interview, he said the Big Three auto companies already are testing their products with their infrastructure.

“Ford, Chrysler, GM and the defense industry all are going to autonomous vehicles and all these assets we already have make us uniquely positioned to move into the next generation, and we need infrastructure where they can test out vehicles on roads instead of in a secure facility,” Hackel said.

The federal money is important because Mound Road is vital to Metro Detroit's economy and the defense industry located along the corridor, Stabenow said. 

“Repairing Mound Road is not only critical to public safety but is also vital for commerce and Southeast Michigan’s defense corridor,” Stabenow said.

Mitchell, whose district includes Mound Road, also praised the federal cash infusion.

"The Mound Road corridor is extremely important to southeast Michigan, and this grant goes towards desperately needed repairs, which will improve the lives of my constituents, and anyone who drives on Mound Road,” Mitchell said in a statement.

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, said the federal funding would be a boost to the local economy.

“Macomb County is home to world-class innovators, manufacturers and workers, and we need world-class infrastructure to match,” said Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, in a statement. “Today’s announcement will help transform Mound Road from a pothole-ridden road to a modernized transportation corridor.”

Local leaders and business owners also praised the federal funding for Mound Road as long overdue.

Ketan Shaw, who owns a Mobil gas station at 14 Mile and Mound in Warren, said he was "very happy" to hear about the federal aid to fix the road, especially the section between 14 Mile and 16 Mile. "There are big potholes there," he said.

He said he is looking forward to the improvements but knows they come with a price.

“Whenever there is construction around here, it affects my business,” Shaw said. “But we need good roads.” 

In an interview, Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said the  grant would help ease traffic "generated by the $2.5 billion expansion of GM Tech Center and Fiat Chrysler in Warren. This new high-tech investment is a shot in the arm for economic development in Macomb County.”

Mound Road also provides access to automotive, aerospace and defense manufacturers, as well as the U.S. Army’s Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command and the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center.

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor said in a statement, “I could not be more excited about the news today. The worst roadway in
the region will soon be transformed into one of the best transportation corridors in all of Michigan. A corridor like Mound Road — that generates $8 billion in economic impact to the region — deserves nothing less."


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