Construction, Government, and Travel & Tourism

Downtown street gets $2M upgrade

October 20, 2016
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Pearl Street NW Grand Rapids downtown stretch renovation
Courtesy City of Grand Rapids

Work on a downtown street considered an entryway to the city is finished.

Over the past two years, Pearl Street underwent $2.05 million in upgrades from Mt. Vernon Street to the Grand River, which included a new roadway, streetscape and interpretive sign about the Pearl Street Bridge’s history.

During the previous construction season, a resurfacing project on the stretch included the removal and replacement of concrete pavement; installation of infiltration basins to help with storm water management; improvement of underground conduits and vaults for street lighting and the enhancement of some sidewalks and ramps to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

This construction season, the stretch underwent streetscape construction that enhanced the sidewalk with trees, planters, brick pavers, seating, decorative streetlights and upgraded lights under the U.S. 131 overpass.

The brick pavers installed capture storm water from the sidewalk and drain it to the planters filled with trees and other vegetation.

The Grand Rapids Historical Commission and the city also created an interpretative sign about the Pearl Street Bridge. The sign, located on the south side of Pearl Street by the bridge, lists the different bridges that have stood at that location and the role they played in Grand Rapids’ history such as hosting a dinner for soldiers returning home from the Civil War.

The road and streetscape improvements were funded by a $487,535 federal grant administered by the Michigan Department of Transportation, $899,665 from the Vital Streets Capital Fund, $21,600 from the Capital Improvement Fund and $644,000 from the Downtown Development Authority.

Kris Larson, president and CEO of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., said Pearl Street is often the first part of downtown Grand Rapids visitors coming off the freeway see. He said the improvements have transformed the stretch of roadway into a “true gateway” to the city.

“This work has re-energized Pearl Street,” Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said.

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