Area residents got their first look Wednesday at detailed plans for a construction project that will dramatically change the 14 Mile/Orchard Lake/Northwestern Hwy. intersection in Farmington Hills and West Bloomfield.
The installation of a turnabout and related road improvements will take more than eight months, with the project staged in four phases during the 2014 construction season. Different sections of 14 Mile Road will be completely closed for all but the final phase, and plans call for two-way traffic to be open at all times on other roads, for the duration.
Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) design engineer Jeff O'Brien said those who came to the open house at Warner Upper Elementary School in Farmington Hills wanted information about the project, and to share their own thoughts.
"There's been some concerns about how traffic is going to move through the area during construction, accessibility ... some of the proposed road closures associated with the project," he said. "They are looking at pedestrian access ... and just the general design of the project."
O'Brien said that plans have not been finalized, and there is still time for people to speak up. He explained the roundabout emerged from public discussions in the "early 2000s" as the preferred alternative among a host of options for addressing traffic circulation in the area.
RCOC has already built roundabouts at Maple and Drake, Maple and Farmington and 14 Mile and Farmington in the first part of the Northwestern Connector Project, which involves RCOC, Michigan Dept. of Transportation, West Bloomfield Township and the City of Farmington Hills in a long-term effort to reduce traffic congestion and improve the connection between M-10 (Northwestern) and M-5, west of Haggerty.
"We've had fairly good success with the roundabouts in place," O'Brien said. "We have seen good movement through them."
Other elements of the 2014 project include:
- reconstructing Orchard Lake from 14 Mile Road to just north of the Gateway shopping center
- reconstructing and realigning the 14 Mile Road/Northwestern Highway intersection
- realigning 14 Mile Road between Orchard Lake and Northwestern Highway
Funding for the Northwestern Connector project comes from the federal and state government, Oakland County, West Bloomfield Township and the City of Farmington Hills. Total cost of the first phase, which includes a total of eight roundabouts, three of which have not yet been built, will be approximately $70 million.