Erosion Control March/April 2017 : Page 38

Lowering a Road 12 Feet in Michigan In early July each year, the town of Traverse City, MI, hosts its weeklong National Cherry Festival. This area produces more tart cherries than any-place else in the US—some 360 million pounds of cherries yearly. Most of the town’s economy is based on tourism, with the Cherry Festival bringing an estimated 500,000 visitors annually from around the world. Organizers once baked a cherry pie weighing more than 28,000 pounds, and cherry pies and preserves are in stiff competition at the festival each year. This town takes the National Cherry Festival seriously. As with any city sponsoring a major festival, Traverse City wants to ensure tourists are safe while they watch the Cherry Royale Parade and the Cher-ryland Band Classic. Whether they’re watching the fireworks or the long-awaited Blue Angels, festivalgoers are in good hands in this Coast Guard town. Tourists have no problem getting to Traverse City, as the local Cherry Capital Airport has regular flights from Chi-cago, Detroit, and Minneapolis. During summer months, airlines also provide regular flights to and from New York, Cleveland, and Denver. Smaller flights are available to parts of northern Michi-gan as well. Traverse City boasts state parks with some 250 campsites located just 3 miles east of downtown. The town has a thriving central business district in the downtown Front Street neighborhood and four major highway routes that move traffic through the town and outlying areas. Residents use South Airport Road to access east-west vicinities, other business locales, and Cherry Capital Airport. It’s considered one of the city’s busiest roads and, until recently, it included one of Traverse City’s most perilous intersec-tions at Lafranier Road. A steep 12% grade at the base of Laf-ranier Road, combined with Traverse City’s coastal weather patterns that often lay sudden and unpredictable lay-ers of precipitation on roadways, made stopping at the intersection during win-ter months difficult. To compound the problem, Lafranier Road had nothing to support the neighborhoods grow-ing up in the area—no sidewalks, no ADA ramps, and no bicycle pathways. Nobody would argue that the street was in need of a major upgrade. Team Elmer’s, a family-owned concrete, crane, and excavation com-pany in Traverse City, was tasked with refurbishing Lafranier Road, but with some special provisions. The Grand Traverse County Road Commission required that the 12% grade be lowered to 8%, which meant cutting out 12 feet of a 1.5-mile reach of the steep hill at the South Airport intersection. This meant Team Elmer’s would have a tight working space. The hill was in the way, which meant they had to either move it or cut it out. First, the water utilities had to be moved. The city receives a lot of snow-fall and often has high snow accumula-tion. To protect them from freeze-thaw cycles, the utilities in this case had to be dropped 10 feet lower, to allow for good coverage after the road was moved. “All the utilities have a minimum coverage that the Department of Envi-ronmental Quality sets,” explains Jim Johnson, Grand Traverse County high-WWW.EROSIONCONTROL.COM 38 EROSION CONTROL

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