A Different Kind Of Road Work

November 19, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — If a local group has its way, land along five freeway interchanges will get a makeover — including three sites near the new Paul Henry Freeway (M-6).

The Grand River Valley Gateways and Passages Partnership, made up of area business people, wants to enhance some of the more visible highway portals with wildflowers and plants that lead drivers into the city.

One site the group wants to beautify is a downtown parcel near the I-196 interchange at Ottawa Avenue and Michigan Street. The property is owned by the Michigan Department of Transportation and is in the Downtown Development Authority district.

DDA members recently gave $2,500 to the group that will go toward the development of the partnership’s master plan, which is expected to cost $12,500.

Grand River Valley Program Manager Joseph Zainea said his group would raise the other $10,000 needed to complete the master plan from the private sector.

In addition to the downtown interchange, the partnership has selected parcels at I-96 and 36th Street in Cascade Township, M-6 and M-37, M-6 and U.S. 131 in Byron Township and M-6 and I-196 in Georgetown Township. URS Corp. and Progressive AE combined their talents to survey the interchanges.

Zainea expects the money to make the beautification changes will come from federal enhancement grants that MDOT and county road commissions would apply for.

“The master plan will put us in a better position to get those funds,” he said.

Zainea said the plan should be ready early next year. When it is finished, the partnership will send it to MDOT. The state agency owns all the properties.

Grand River Valley has been together for about 18 months. Theresa Petko is the group’s president and Lynn Francis is vice president. Dana Sommers and Julie Stoneman serve as secretary and treasurer, respectively. 

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