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Highway and Road Construction Updates


GRDadof3

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okay, you are correct- most of the homes are late eighteen hundreds early nineteen hundreds- but it seems the true character of those homes have been ripped from them and replaced with 60's and 70's style building materials.

I am an urban resider - and have lived in many large cities. Diversity does not frighten me- rather pulling to a stop sign and someone flagging you down to see if you are there to purchase drugs-bothers me.

If you look at GR/Wealthy Street district- they worked hard at restoring homes (the right way) or building new (the right way) or adding commercial- before they were given their lights/etc.

They cared about their neighborhood first.

You're talking about two different things. The Wealthy St area got its streetscape upgrades from the city, because they lobbied for it, not because the city felt they "deserved it". I also believe they were paid for through a business district tax capture (?). There are some pretty rough streets and patches you can still find around Wealthy Street (worse than anything in the Belknap area), and drug dealing going on. The Belknap Lookout area is looking for Coit Ave upgrades from MDOT (not the city), because MDOT is going to rebuild the bridge anyway. And they have raised their own funds to develop a design charrette for upgrades to the area, and are also willing to step up and try to find funding sources for the work they would like to have done.

http://www.moblconnects.com/Site/Home.html

The whole point of wanting to upgrade the Coit overpass is the whole reason people believe Belknap has not seen more revitalization. There is a large and growing group of Belknap residents who are working to make the area better, but adding commercial? Where? And if you asked most of the residents in that area, they don't want widespread demolition of the current housing and having it be a victim of "urban renewal".

BTW: do hospitals build residential projects? :dontknow:

I think some of your angst toward NOBL is a bit misdirected.

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Are they going to cut into the hills on either side from the Grand to Fuller and put concrete walls in like how it is on the Westbound side by diamond? I noticed they cut into the hill a little bit when they did the college westbound offramp. It seems like they would have to so they could have enough room for the additional lane.

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BTW: do hospitals build residential projects? :dontknow:

I would only think that a hospital would build a housing project in an area where the cost of living was so high that it was hard to afford housing on the salaries that they paid. I remember a few years ago hearing about school districts in rich parts of California building subsidized housing for their teachers. This is certainly NOT necessary in GR. There is lots of affordable housing in the area surrounding Spectrum. Plus I hear nurses are paid pretty decently these days.

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Are they going to cut into the hills on either side from the Grand to Fuller and put concrete walls in like how it is on the Westbound side by diamond? I noticed they cut into the hill a little bit when they did the college westbound offramp. It seems like they would have to so they could have enough room for the additional lane.

Too early to answer that question. I asked the design engineer, Raildude's sister, the same question and they are just doing the initial alignment stuff.

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Are they going to cut into the hills on either side from the Grand to Fuller and put concrete walls in like how it is on the Westbound side by diamond? I noticed they cut into the hill a little bit when they did the college westbound offramp. It seems like they would have to so they could have enough room for the additional lane.

Hey FLOYDZ - I read your thoughts about high density housing in Belknap.

I am with you on that! Seems like it would be the perfect place other then what is there.

there is a beautiful multi unit building on the right side of Hastings and Fairview.

I am thinking some more of those buildings with roof top decks and roof gardens/green space!

NOW THAT IS URBAN LIVING!

anyone heard of any plans for change?????? I saw a couple of places for sale up there- but it doesn't seem like anything with a view is for sale???? From Coit to Lafayette doesn't seem that appealing.

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I would only think that a hospital would build a housing project in an area where the cost of living was so high that it was hard to afford housing on the salaries that they paid. I remember a few years ago hearing about school districts in rich parts of California building subsidized housing for their teachers. This is certainly NOT necessary in GR. There is lots of affordable housing in the area surrounding Spectrum. Plus I hear nurses are paid pretty decently these days.

I know- I was reaching. Heard that Spectrum was going to have a hotel built on Michigan Street anyways for long term patients families.

I really do think that a new bridge would be nice. but as soon as you drive over that bridge- It seems like there would be nicer things to look at!

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You're talking about two different things. The Wealthy St area got its streetscape upgrades from the city, because they lobbied for it, not because the city felt they "deserved it". I also believe they were paid for through a business district tax capture (?). There are some pretty rough streets and patches you can still find around Wealthy Street (worse than anything in the Belknap area), and drug dealing going on. The Belknap Lookout area is looking for Coit Ave upgrades from MDOT (not the city), because MDOT is going to rebuild the bridge anyway. And they have raised their own funds to develop a design charrette for upgrades to the area, and are also willing to step up and try to find funding sources for the work they would like to have done.

http://www.moblconnects.com/Site/Home.html

The whole point of wanting to upgrade the Coit overpass is the whole reason people believe Belknap has not seen more revitalization. There is a large and growing group of Belknap residents who are working to make the area better, but adding commercial? Where? And if you asked most of the residents in that area, they don't want widespread demolition of the current housing and having it be a victim of "urban renewal".

BTW: do hospitals build residential projects? :dontknow:

I think some of your angst toward NOBL is a bit misdirected.

I have no angst towards NOBL(?) or that neighborhood. I just find it humorous that anyone would believe that a neighborhood hasn't revitalized itself due to a bridge.

(That is much like saying "I couldn't get the dishes done because my dishwasher was broke"- even though the sink works just fine).

There are beautiful houses there that shouldn't get bulldozed, I am in agreement.

However, that is only like 10 percent of the neighborhood.

The rest of it is pretty dumpy.

Sorry to say that, but I am an outsider looking in.

Oh and BTW, I BELIEVE, had Wealthy Street not prepared their neighborhood and began revitalizing, they would never have had the ability to stand proud when lobbying for streetscapes.

The city would never had taken them serious had WEALTHY district gone to them for tax captures or gvt $$$ 10 years ago when (as I have heard) Wealthy was extremely distressed.

I am definitely not an expert on the subject of when or who should do what to get whatever- but I do know that there is a law of science here-

It is not likely for a harvest to come if you forget to work the fields.

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Interesting set of posts Speed2fast.

I was part of some Wealthy Street's work about 10 years ago. The work on the streetscape went hand in hand with the residential development. Any neighborhood desires to have signature projects that create a sense of place.

I'm now almost a 10 year resident of Belknap. I see the Coit Bridge as a key building block in the continued redevelopment of Belknap Lookout. Is it the only building block? No. Coit School is another key building block. The neighborhood fought hard to rehab and rebuild Coit School several years ago. The parks are additional building blocks. These projects set the tone for additional redevelopment, including residential and commercial.

One of the factors the neighborhood is dealing with is that many of the properties have been purchased by speculators, investors and landlords. I know families that would love to live up here, but houses just didn't make it to the open market before they were bought up. Or they were being sold for at a price that would leave little money left over for a homeowner to make needed repairs and improvements. With the rental market where it is, I don't think there are a lot of incentives to rehab or upgrade rental homes because it is very difficult to get that return on investment.

I would also say that this neighborhood has a history as a working class, affordable community. Some of the "improvements" planned for this community will mean the displacement of long-term residents either because they get forced out by increased property taxes or choose to leave because they get offered big money for their homes. Many neighbors are concerned about not being able to live in this community any more once the changes happen. We've already seen a significant loss of homeowners on particular streets. You might call this the price of progress, but the neighborhood is trying to be very deliberate about how this change will happen. I'm personally very happy that our community is slowing down and being more deliberate about the kind of investment and neighborhood we want to live in. My hope is that it continues to be a neighborhood for all people with all incomes. That might mean it looks a little "dumpy" to someone driving through "2fast" for a little longer :)

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Hey FLOYDZ - I read your thoughts about high density housing in Belknap.

I am with you on that! Seems like it would be the perfect place other then what is there.

there is a beautiful multi unit building on the right side of Hastings and Fairview.

I am thinking some more of those buildings with roof top decks and roof gardens/green space!

NOW THAT IS URBAN LIVING!

anyone heard of any plans for change?????? I saw a couple of places for sale up there- but it doesn't seem like anything with a view is for sale???? From Coit to Lafayette doesn't seem that appealing.

Are you talking about that apartment building that overlooks downtown at the corner of Hastings and Fairview? That's one of the worst looking structures up there. That and the apartment buildings near College and Hastings. Talk about 70's architecture.

I am also an "outsider looking in", as I don't live in Belknap. But I do know 3 individuals that do and are working very hard to bring the area back. One aspect of that is the new Newberry Place residential community at Livingston and Newberry. Plus, the most active people in the Belknap area do not want high-density residential, especially if it means tearing down the existing housing stock on Fairview.

But the contention is not that a bridge will fix all ills. But that the highway cut the neighborhood off from downtown, and that the current Coit Ave bridge and Lafayette underpass are not exactly welcoming to pedestrian traffic. They want to restore that pedestrian connectivity. I don't see what's so wrong with that. :dontknow:

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...Oh and BTW, I BELIEVE, had Wealthy Street not prepared their neighborhood and began revitalizing, they would never have had the ability to stand proud when lobbying for streetscapes.

The city would never had taken them serious had WEALTHY district gone to them for tax captures or gvt $$$ 10 years ago when (as I have heard) Wealthy was extremely distressed. ...

If I'm not mistaken, Wealthy has a business district along much of its length. Belknap has perhaps a dozen commercial properties. Big difference in terms of tax captures and streetscapes.

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I would also say that this neighborhood has a history as a working class, affordable community. Some of the "improvements" planned for this community will mean the displacement of long-term residents either because they get forced out by increased property taxes or choose to leave because they get offered big money for their homes. Many neighbors are concerned about not being able to live in this community any more once the changes happen.

Isn't there a michigan law that keeps property tax increases at a certain percentage per year, around the rate of inflation to protect people against them becoming too great and forcing people out of thier homes?

Also being if being displaced is a concern it must not be too much of a concern if they are willing to leave with a large offer on thier home.

This is the whole anti gentrification argument and the only people that would really be adversely affected by that are renters which aren't good for a neighboorhood in large numbers anyway.

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Isn't there a michigan law that keeps property tax increases at a certain percentage per year, around the rate of inflation to protect people against them becoming too great and forcing people out of thier homes?

Also being if being displaced is a concern it must not be too much of a concern if they are willing to leave with a large offer on thier home.

This is the whole anti gentrification argument and the only people that would really be adversely affected by that are renters which aren't good for a neighboorhood in large numbers anyway.

Not necessarily true. Homeowners can also be victims of "speculators and flippers" as we are seeing in the U.S. in many housing markets where speculating was out of control. It can also affect middle class folk too because the housing prices appreciate to a level that is unattainable to them in the decent neighborhoods in the city, forcing them to move out to the exurbs to find anything affordable and decent.

But on the subject of streetscape enhancements, I think it was the DDA that showed that for every $xxx spent on streetscape enhancements in downtown, a corresponding $yyy in investment went into the street. So not only do new businesses downtown put money into the coffers to allow for new streetscapes, it works the other way too that new streets/sidewalks/planters/benches/lighting = new businesses.

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Isn't there a michigan law that keeps property tax increases at a certain percentage per year, around the rate of inflation to protect people against them becoming too great and forcing people out of thier homes?

Also being if being displaced is a concern it must not be too much of a concern if they are willing to leave with a large offer on thier home.

This is the whole anti gentrification argument and the only people that would really be adversely affected by that are renters which aren't good for a neighboorhood in large numbers anyway.

There is a Michigan Law called the Headlee Amendment that does cap the increase to the rate of inflation. That still means that property taxes continue to increase though. And even 3% incremental changes can affect people on fixed incomes. Additionally, when the property changes hands, a new assessed value is applied and property taxes jump. While that doesn't impact the current homeowner, it does potentially make that property less affordable for future residents and decreases the overall affordability of a neighborhood.

My comments are not meant to be anti-gentrification. Gentrification on some levels are necessary to create more healthy and sustainable neighborhoods. When a neighborhood doesn't have middle-class families, the chances of sustaining any sort of neighborhood commercial and schools decreases significantly. The challenge is how to develop a neighborhood that continues to provide affordable rental and home-ownership opportunities, while allowing for middle and upper income households to find housing that meets their needs or desires. In many cases that is the role of nonprofit housing providers that can use gap financing and other tools to keep the cost of the home down. But in my neighborhood, these nonprofit housing providers struggle to get their foot in the door because of the speculative prices. They have a very tight margin to work with, and if they can't purchase a property for a reasonable amount of money, then their numbers will not work.

I'm personally grateful that our community is taking a look at these sorts of issues and is willing to have tough conversations about the positives and negatives of redevelopment.

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Are you talking about that apartment building that overlooks downtown at the corner of Hastings and Fairview? That's one of the worst looking structures up there. That and the apartment buildings near College and Hastings. Talk about 70's architecture.

I am also an "outsider looking in", as I don't live in Belknap. But I do know 3 individuals that do and are working very hard to bring the area back. One aspect of that is the new Newberry Place residential community at Livingston and Newberry. Plus, the most active people in the Belknap area do not want high-density residential, especially if it means tearing down the existing housing stock on Fairview.

But the contention is not that a bridge will fix all ills. But that the highway cut the neighborhood off from downtown, and that the current Coit Ave bridge and Lafayette underpass are not exactly welcoming to pedestrian traffic. They want to restore that pedestrian connectivity. I don't see what's so wrong with that. :dontknow:

i know the complex our thinking of and I totally agree that is about the worst looking thing for that location. I have always pictured a very modern slick glass looking 3 story apartment or condo right there.

About the bridge I hope they do more to connect the neighborhood, although there are many bridges that cross 196 and 131 as they cut through the city, I believe there are no pedestrian-only bridges, something that most cities have including detroit and flint, to somewhat keep neighborhoods conected

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Are you talking about that apartment building that overlooks downtown at the corner of Hastings and Fairview? That's one of the worst looking structures up there. That and the apartment buildings near College and Hastings. Talk about 70's architecture.

I am also an "outsider looking in", as I don't live in Belknap. But I do know 3 individuals that do and are working very hard to bring the area back. One aspect of that is the new Newberry Place residential community at Livingston and Newberry. Plus, the most active people in the Belknap area do not want high-density residential, especially if it means tearing down the existing housing stock on Fairview.

But the contention is not that a bridge will fix all ills. But that the highway cut the neighborhood off from downtown, and that the current Coit Ave bridge and Lafayette underpass are not exactly welcoming to pedestrian traffic. They want to restore that pedestrian connectivity. I don't see what's so wrong with that. :dontknow:

I am ABSOLUTELY not talking about the complex on the left side of Fairview. That is VERY 70's.

There is a beautiful, I think it is 4 units (maybe 6???) across the street from that complex. It looks like a stucco building. Looks like it would be a great place for a roof top garden. (the ones you see in the urban living mags). Flat roof. great view.

I think there is also 7 beautiful homes on the left side of Fairview. If the houses looked anything like those- especially the one that looks like it should be in Italy- Everyone would want to live there!

Newberry Place- do they have a website? I am interested. I will be around the MM late afternoon 2morrow (may have to do another drive by.)

I suppose HH feels classier & cleaner (even for the middle class and college students and lesser incomes) because the architecture is classier.(not usually graffitied or sided or thrown together)

Funny thing is (BWINDI) most of HH is owned by a landlord- or a speculator, or an investor.

There isn't anything wrong with that- it is a business for some. (which helps keep it affordable for others). BTW, I don't recieve tax incentives to live there.

In my opinion, as I am no expert, Gentrification is inevitable for that neighborhood- no matter how you slice it. It is in the most prime location, dare I say, an even better location than HH or MIDTOWN. That may be why most want to live there now (due to its location) because it is definitely not because of its housing (for most).

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i know the complex our thinking of and I totally agree that is about the worst looking thing for that location. I have always pictured a very modern slick glass looking 3 story apartment or condo right there.

About the bridge I hope they do more to connect the neighborhood, although there are many bridges that cross 196 and 131 as they cut through the city, I believe there are no pedestrian-only bridges, something that most cities have including detroit and flint, to somewhat keep neighborhoods conected

THat building is terribly ugly. A modern slick glass 3 story apt or condo would be great there (VERY URBAN) my thoughts- the city should trade the park near the end with the current owner - and tear that building down and put a park in its place! (GOTTA LOVE GREEN SPACE!)

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Isn't there a michigan law that keeps property tax increases at a certain percentage per year, around the rate of inflation to protect people against them becoming too great and forcing people out of thier homes?

Also being if being displaced is a concern it must not be too much of a concern if they are willing to leave with a large offer on thier home.

This is the whole anti gentrification argument and the only people that would really be adversely affected by that are renters which aren't good for a neighboorhood in large numbers anyway.

WOW JASONSQUIRESDO- my sentiments - EXACTLY.

you have to watch the word GENTRIFICATION around people that seek govt money for everything. They are like higher educated welfare recipients.

They forget that if taxes are increased - so are the values of their home. It is all relative.

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Interesting set of posts Speed2fast.

I was part of some Wealthy Street's work about 10 years ago. The work on the streetscape went hand in hand with the residential development. Any neighborhood desires to have signature projects that create a sense of place.

I'm now almost a 10 year resident of Belknap. I see the Coit Bridge as a key building block in the continued redevelopment of Belknap Lookout. Is it the only building block? No. Coit School is another key building block. The neighborhood fought hard to rehab and rebuild Coit School several years ago. The parks are additional building blocks. These projects set the tone for additional redevelopment, including residential and commercial.

One of the factors the neighborhood is dealing with is that many of the properties have been purchased by speculators, investors and landlords. I know families that would love to live up here, but houses just didn't make it to the open market before they were bought up. Or they were being sold for at a price that would leave little money left over for a homeowner to make needed repairs and improvements. With the rental market where it is, I don't think there are a lot of incentives to rehab or upgrade rental homes because it is very difficult to get that return on investment.

I would also say that this neighborhood has a history as a working class, affordable community. Some of the "improvements" planned for this community will mean the displacement of long-term residents either because they get forced out by increased property taxes or choose to leave because they get offered big money for their homes. Many neighbors are concerned about not being able to live in this community any more once the changes happen. We've already seen a significant loss of homeowners on particular streets. You might call this the price of progress, but the neighborhood is trying to be very deliberate about how this change will happen. I'm personally very happy that our community is slowing down and being more deliberate about the kind of investment and neighborhood we want to live in. My hope is that it continues to be a neighborhood for all people with all incomes. That might mean it looks a little "dumpy" to someone driving through "2fast" for a little longer :)

BWINDI- in no way am I trying to discredit any work that has been done. Obviously if Mdot is planning on changing the bridges- it is smart to ask them to do so, with taste.

This forum seems to be fullfilling some sort of satisfaction to my debating ego! (you are probably better at it).

I did go and purchase a book on GR NEIGHBORHOODS due to the onset of this discussion.

Funny, the highway tore the neighborhood up in the beginning and now it will help to rebuild it- from rebuilding it. (FULL CIRCLE)

It seems that when the neighborhood was built ORIGINALLY- it was built with TASTE.

It also seems that the white collared lived on Fairview Street- and gradually declined to blue collared as the the hill downsloped. Which is a great mix!

It also says that after the highway was put in (in the 50's), most homeowners fled to the suburbs and rented out to lower income tenants. (so landlords and investors and speculators nowadays are not the downfall- the downfall happened in 1968 after the lower income housing was put in).

Now, due to its location, the neighborhood may start to make a come back !!! ????

Hopefully, the current landlords, speculators or investors will help to bring the housing full circle. Then- as I have said before- the bridges, the linear parks, and the benches will all match each other. Like tennis shoes with blue jeans- or shiney shoes with slacks.

You know, honestly, it urks me sometimes that almost everyone in HH chopped up their homes.

Of course, due to inflation and rising gas prices and being a historic district, there was wisdom in their decisions.

Had they not chopped it up, I would never be able to live here, nor would my GRCC student neighbors or my other neighbor who is a DR in the emergency room at Spectrum or the single mom with 2 kids - NOW THAT IS A MIXED HOUSE with all different incomes.

EXCITING!!!!

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I am ABSOLUTELY not talking about the complex on the left side of Fairview. That is VERY 70's.

There is a beautiful, I think it is 4 units (maybe 6???) across the street from that complex. It looks like a stucco building. Looks like it would be a great place for a roof top garden. (the ones you see in the urban living mags). Flat roof. great view.

...

Let's fly over and visit.

http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&...3&encType=1

...You know, honestly, it irks me sometimes that almost everyone in HH chopped up their homes....

Hard to maintain a 3000 sf structure without an inheritance or good help.

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i know the complex our thinking of and I totally agree that is about the worst looking thing for that location. I have always pictured a very modern slick glass looking 3 story apartment or condo right there.

About the bridge I hope they do more to connect the neighborhood, although there are many bridges that cross 196 and 131 as they cut through the city, I believe there are no pedestrian-only bridges, something that most cities have including detroit and flint, to somewhat keep neighborhoods conected

Yeah, I think a building kind of like the one that architect built on diamond ave just north of wealthy would look pretty cool there. It's very modern with lots of glass. I can't find a photograph of it though. I know it was featured in a small article in Grand Rapids Magazine not long after it was built.

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Wow, I go on vacation for a week and this thread grows by almost 3 pages (although somewhat off topic)!

To answer an earlier comment about the new Jenison interchange, the new entrance ramp to EB I-196 will be on the right. Ramps on the left tend to be quite problematic, so most new designs only include them when absolutely necessary.

Also, on the subject on merge/weave lanes, I disagree with the idea that they are just the "poor man's way of freeway expansion". They can greatly improve the safety of a freeway by providing entering and exiting vehicles a much longer distance in which to get over (which is a big part of the problem on I-196 these days, especially on WB I-196) and they do provide a small increase in capacity between interchanges, which is where the volumes are the highest. Merge/weave lanes are definitely not the same as a through lane, but sometimes that's not what is needed. I can think of several locations in the Grand Rapids area where a merge/weave lane has been beneficial.

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Wow, I go on vacation for a week and this thread grows by almost 3 pages (although somewhat off topic)!

To answer an earlier comment about the new Jenison interchange, the new entrance ramp to EB I-196 will be on the right. Ramps on the left tend to be quite problematic, so most new designs only include them when absolutely necessary.

Also, on the subject on merge/weave lanes, I disagree with the idea that they are just the "poor man's way of freeway expansion". They can greatly improve the safety of a freeway by providing entering and exiting vehicles a much longer distance in which to get over (which is a big part of the problem on I-196 these days, especially on WB I-196) and they do provide a small increase in capacity between interchanges, which is where the volumes are the highest. Merge/weave lanes are definitely not the same as a through lane, but sometimes that's not what is needed. I can think of several locations in the Grand Rapids area where a merge/weave lane has been beneficial.

I've always found the weave/merge lane on westbound 196 between Wilson and Chicago Drive to work very well. It kills me though to see people get on at Wilson just to get off in Jenison.

Edited by j3shafer
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  • 5 weeks later...

College Ave over I-196 to be a mess again

By Peter Luke and Ken Kolker

The Grand Rapids Press

Tearing down and rebuilding the College Avenue NE bridge over Int. 196 in Grand Rapids is among the $150 million in accelerated road projects that should add 2,100 construction and engineering jobs with about a year, according to Gov. Jennifer Granholm's office.

The $5.4 million bridge replacement has been moved up.

The state will begin preliminary work on the bridge this fall and start replacing it in spring 2009, said state Department of Transporation spokeswoman Dawn Garner. The project originally was scheduled for 2012.

Great, just when some of the new Medical Mile projects will be opening.

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College Ave over I-196 to be a mess again

By Peter Luke and Ken Kolker

The Grand Rapids Press

Tearing down and rebuilding the College Avenue NE bridge over Int. 196 in Grand Rapids is among the $150 million in accelerated road projects that should add 2,100 construction and engineering jobs with about a year, according to Gov. Jennifer Granholm's office.

The $5.4 million bridge replacement has been moved up.

The state will begin preliminary work on the bridge this fall and start replacing it in spring 2009, said state Department of Transporation spokeswoman Dawn Garner. The project originally was scheduled for 2012.

Great, just when some of the new Medical Mile projects will be opening.

I certainly hope that consideration is made for the pedestrian/ street level component of this bridge. It would be a great opportunity to make a statement as a "gateway" to the Medical Mile.

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I certainly hope that consideration is made for the pedestrian/ street level component of this bridge. It would be a great opportunity to make a statement as a "gateway" to the Medical Mile.

The plans, as I've seen them drawn up, are for 6 lanes of traffic and 10ft sidewalks on either side. There is very little aesthetic character being talked about for this bridge as far as I can tell. Primarily because of the tight confines moving north and south and the accelerated timeline. If you have any input for this bridge, I would get it into MDOT right now.

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