Lansing Township and the City of East Lansing are partnering to connect their two communities by putting sidewalks on the Lake Lansing Rd. bridge over U.S. 127.
The Michigan Department of Transportation will begin working on the bridge Monday, Oct. 29. This is the start of a project that has been 10 years in the making, and one of the top requests from residents on both sides of the expressway.
Currently, the Lake Lansing Road sidewalks lead to nowhere, leaving walkers and bikers with no safe way to cross over U.S. 127 on the Lake Lansing Rd. bridge.
Steve Hayward, the planning director for Lansing Township, says the sidewalks will better connect the region and make trips for walkers and bikers much safer.
"One of the main issues that comes up when we talk to neighborhood groups is about being able to get over to Meijer, and for the East Lansing residents to get over to Eastwood without taking a car," Hayward explained.
That's why Lansing Township teamed with the East Lansing to pay for the construction of sidewalks on the north and south sides of the Lake Lansing Rd. bridge. MDOT will work on the bridge for about a week this fall, and then will start heavy construction next March. It plans to replace the surface of the bridge in about six months, always keeping traffic open in both directions.
"Which was a major concern of ours," said Hayward. "We wanted businesses to be able to be accessed by people in the region."
Access is also a big concern for Rich Bratschi as well. He owns the Mobile gas station on the west end of the bridge.
"The bridge is a big access for the whole community, along with us and other businesses in the region," said Bratschi. "We've been assured this will go smoothly and everyone will be able to get in and out reasonably easy."
And Bratschi hopes the finished product will be worth the orange-barrel heartache.
"We've had the sidewalk here for 25 years that went to nowhere," Bratschi said. "It would be kind of nice to have it finally connected, I think for people walking to work, going to Meijer, and back and forth to the mall. It's going to be good for the community."
Hayward says it will also be good for the entire region.
"This should be one of the last links with what we've done on the west side of the district, linking in to Lansing and East Lansing," said Hayward. "It should better connect the region for people who don't have a car."
On Monday, MDOT crews will remove the raised median on each end of the bridge as a way to better maintain traffic when the project starts in the spring of 2013. For that work, there will be nighttime single-lane closures in each direction of Lake Lansing Rd. and a daytime single-lane closure on the eastbound side.
Traffic will always be open in both directions, even if it's moving slower with single-lane closures. The fall phase of the bridge construction should be wrapped up in about a week.