Be prepared to be delayed

Published 8:44 pm Wednesday, April 6, 2005

By By ERIN VER BERKMOES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - When driving down Fifth Street, you may have noticed that it takes a bit longer to get where your going because the road is down to one lane.
The reason for this delay is that crews from SBC/Ameritech, SEMCO gas company and the City of Niles utility department are moving and or updating their utility lines, before the Michigan Department of Transportation starts their street widening and resurfacing project set to begin on May 2.
MDOT will be holding an informational open house on Wednesday, April 20, from 3-6 p.m. at the Niles City Fire Department, located at 1345 E. Main St. The open house will allow businesses and community members an opportunity to ask questions and review the construction plans.
The project will entail many things that will update this stretch of road and make it more manageable to drive on.
The first thing that they will be doing is widening the road to accommodate a center turning lane. "We will be adding about five feet to either side of the road within the city limits, so that we can install a turning lane, which will help to cut down on backups when people are turning to the left," Ramos said.
The next thing that will be done is the realignment of the intersections of Pokagon and Wayne streets.
Ramos added, this is being done to bring them a bit closer to each other so that it makes the traffic flow better.
Right now it can be difficult to turn left, and to get across the streets. This will make things a lot safer in those areas.
Another job that will be done is the curve on Fifth Street near the Flower Cart Florist is quite tight and the hope is the flatten it out a bit. "We demolished an apartment complex on the corner of Vine and Fifth to make this possible," Ramos said.
Another thing that is planned to be done is there are some drainage problems in a few localized areas along this route. "We are going to improve the drainage, because the water buildup can cause some problems for residents and things, so we want to get ride of this problem." Ramos said.
Another project planned is to put in full paved shoulders, instead of just the paved ribbons that are there now. This will be done out past the city limits.
During the project which is scheduled for completion at the end of October, the contractors will try to make things as convenient for residents who live in that area as they can.
MDOT has also given notified residents in the effected areas of the work that is being planned. They have also notified local schools, hospitals, police and fire departments, and ambulance services.
No road construction project would be complete without detours. During the duration of the project there will be two major detours in effect.
The first one will start beginning in May and running through June. Residents who are heading out of town to the north will be asked to take Oak Street down to 17th Street and then turn left onto Lake Street, finally ending up at Fifth Street, which they can take out of town.
The second detour that will be in effect will begin starting in early June and will go through the end of the project in October. This detour will also effect drivers trying to head north out of town.
They will have to take Business 31 or Front Street out of town, to Ullery Road and then onto Pucker Street which will take them back to M-51.
Neil Coulston, director of public works for the City of Niles said, "Things will be kind of a mess around here with all the detours, but the routes we have are best ones that could be worked out."
Coulston added that the city is very happy that MDOT has chosen to spend some of its funds here in Niles to make the road between the city limits and Main Street all that much safer.