Summer road construction will mean detours

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By Tony Briscoe
Entirely East Lansing staff writer

As much as winter has wreaked havoc on East Lansing, residents may be less eager for summer than one might think. Construction on Harrison Avenue is scheduled to continue for the second year in a row this June and it could cause just as many headaches as the snow.

The Harrison Avenue Reconstruction Project, which stretches from Trowbridge Road to Kalamazoo Road, started June 7 according to However, because the size of the project it was split into four phases, said Public Works Director Todd Sneathen.

“We prioritize projects based on a number of different factors, and we typically prioritize five years out so we can get the appropriate federal funding,” said Sneathen. “[Harrison Avenue] was one of the worst conditioned roads in the city when it comes to what we refer to as major streets.”

The first two phases of construction, which focused on repaving the street, repairing curbs and installing a new water main for the Red Cedar neighborhoods, were completed last summer. During these stages lanes were consolidated and entrances to Shaw Lane, Marigold Avenue and Lilac Avenue from Harrison Avenue were closed.

View the Harrison Avenue Reconstruction Project.

The last two phases, scheduled to take place in mid-June (Phase III) and late August (Phase IV), could cause drivers even more frustration because of the complete closure of Harrison Avenue from Shaw Lane to Trowbridge Road for asphalt repaving and an installation of a new water main.

As a consequence, Wilson, Sever and Lilac roads will be closed at their Harrison Avenue intersections as well.

With this in mind, the city chose to carry out the construction over the summer because of the substantial decrease in traffic as a result smaller student body, Sneathen said.

“One of the big things is we’re going to wait until MSU is out of session and then we’ll detour traffic onto campus,” said Sneathen. “We actually split the project into two pieces in order to impact traffic as little as possible.”

Trowbridge Road, Red Cedar Road and Shaw Lane will detour around Harrison Avenue between Kalamazoo and Trowbridge during the third phase. In spite of the city’s attempts to detour traffic, some East Lansing residents like MSU student Terrian McClemore still say that the project will still cause significant inconveniences.

“I guess the fact that the city waited until the city is better to some extent, but that still doesn’t change the fact that it will be a problem to a lot of people,” said McClemore. “I mean it’s going to change more than just daily driving routines, it’s going to change bus routes and access to businesses, too.”

Despite the detours, Sneathen said the construction will improve the quality of life once the project is completed.

“We’re going to put a much larger water main in than is currently out there, so that should improve the water service we provide,” said Sneathen. “The other thing is, the road is in bad shape and (construction) will make for much more comfortable travel.”

Property owners with special access or delivery issues because of construction, are advised to contact the East Lansing Engineering Department at 517-337-9495 to voice their concerns.

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