MDOT to close M-50 in Britton Aug. 27-31

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The railroad crossing on M-50 in Britton. Photo by Mickie Alvarado.

With M-50 completely shut down from Aug. 27 through August 31 at the railroad tracks in Britton, traveling through the village will be even more challenging than the streetscape project has made it this summer. The road closure occurs while the railroad resets the tracks and repaves the intersecting roadway. Rob Welch, delivery manager at the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Jackson Transport-ation Service Center said originally the railroad project was to be done by MDOT, but then the railroad decided to do the work itself.

The scheduled detour for eastbound M-50 traffic is M-52 to U.S. 12 to U.S. 23, with the westbound traffic detour following U.S. 23 to U.S. 12 to M-52 to M-50. The long detour is necessary because MDOT may only reroute traffic on roads it owns.

Local residents will find the blocked crossing inconvenient as they must navigate using local dirt roads to get around the closing. The north-south running Hoagland Road will take residents to Kniffen road on the north side of M-50 or Centennial Road on the south side of M-50. Kniffen and Centennial both intersect with Britton Highway, which becomes Main St. in the Village limits.

As for the Britton streetscape project, Welch said everything is moving forward, with a planned mid to late September completion of the entire project. “That’s our goal,” he said. “I think it’s a doable goal.”

The completion delay resulted from a design flaw where M-50 intersects with Main Street. The decorative sidewalk bump-out on the north side of M-50 made it difficult for truck traffic on Main Street to safely turn onto M-50.

The first week of August, MDOT realized the intersection was unsafe. The decision was made to redesign that part of the streetscape project and rip up the concrete which had already been poured.

“We have been rapidly putting people to the task of getting that intersection redesigned,” Welch said.

There is a tentative redesign in place according to Welch, which would widen the intersection on the north side of M-50. Because MDOT does not own the property on that corner, they must purchase it, and negotiations are underway with the owner. If the northwest quadrant property is not available for purchase by MDOT, the engineers will have to go back to the drawing board.

“That quadrant is the x-factor,” said Welch.

Main Street to the south of M-50 does not require a design change as the truck traffic from the south is minimal. The cost to tear up the existing concrete as well as the redesign costs and the cost to purchase property on the northwest quadrant is still unknown. “I haven’t run those numbers yet,” Welch said. “They shouldn’t be significant.”

Although the work required to redo the corner is time consuming, Welch says it is not expensive. The biggest expense with a project improvement like the Britton streetscape occurs when utilities must be moved. Welch says adjusting utility lines is not likely beyond possibly putting in a new fire hydrant. At this time approximately 100-200 feet of curb and gutter will be redone, according to Welch.

Work on the southeast quadrant in front of the businesses on M-50 will not be affected by the streetscape design changes, except the stairs planned for the end of the sidewalk will be moved further up Main Street.

When asked whether MDOT streetscapes follow a single design or if they change according to the municipality, Welch said, “Each streetscape is tailor-made.”

Because Welch has only been involved with the Britton streetscape project for the last six to eight weeks, he did not know if a site survey was done by MDOT before the streetscape plans were drawn up. He said the Village of Britton suggested much of the streetscape design, and that MDOT did make changes, like taking trees out of the pavement bump-out to improve visibility at the corner.




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