Ahead of Schedule

July 13, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — Construction on East Beltline Avenue (M-37) at Lake Eastbrook Boulevard in Kentwood and Grand Rapids entered its second phase on Tuesday, a full week ahead of schedule.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is reconstructing the intersection of East Beltline and Lake Eastbrook Boulevard and adding double left-turn lanes at the entrance to Woodland Mall where there are presently single left-turn lanes. The $2.1 million project is scheduled for completion in early September.

Woodland Mall Drive reopened Tuesday, and East Beltline traffic shifted to the west side of the street. One lane of traffic is being maintained in each direction on the newly constructed pavement, according to MDOT.

Also on Tuesday, Lake Eastbrook Boulevard will be closed at East Beltline, but drivers will still have access to businesses in the vicinity.

“We know this project is having an impact on the businesses in and surrounding Woodland and Centerpointe malls, so we are pleased that construction is going well and we are running slightly ahead of schedule,” said Erick Kind, MDOT Transportation Service Center manager.

Tony DeLuccia, general manager of Woodland Mall, said the retailers he’s spoken with seem to be taking the construction in stride.

“The ones I’ve talked to and asked specifically said their sales are very comparable to last year, and some of them are even up,” DeLuccia said. “They realize that this is a short-term inconvenience for a long-term gain. They’ve had a very upbeat attitude about it. They’re very happy that MDOT is a few days ahead of schedule.”

Mike Brooks, general manager of Centerpointe Mall, said he hasn’t heard any complaints from retailers about losing business during construction.

“Of course, during rush hour, it’s pretty tough gaining access, but I’m not hearing complaints or any reports that sales are down because of construction,” Brooks said.

MDOT Spokeswoman Dawn Garner noted that MDOT met a year ago with mall merchants to explain the construction project and has since tried to keep them up-to-speed on its progress every step of the way. The heavy traffic on East Beltline is the biggest obstacle MDOT has to work around, Garner acknowledged. 

“Because of the businesses in the area and the need to maintain access to them as much as possible, we obviously want to get in, get it done as soon as possible, and get out,” Garner remarked.

In related news, MDOT’s $2.8 million roadway and intersection improvement project on 28th Street from U.S. 131 to Division Avenue in Wyoming is now moving into its final stage.

The stretch of 28th Street between U.S. 131 and Division Avenue is being completely reconstructed, including drainage, curb and gutter improvements.

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