The construction on Baker Road to relocate a DTE gas line seemed to take us all by surprise.
We Love Dexter’s Facebook page with a link to an article hosted a lot of frustrated dialogue over the unexpected roadwork. Using those comments as a prompt, I sent an email to Washtenaw County Road Commission (WCRC) late Monday afternoon with a few quick questions asking for an explanation. Emily Kizer, Communications Coordinator, was quick to respond this morning.
The plan is still to complete resurfacing Dexter-Ann Arbor Road in early June before Baker Road is completely closed for three months for the construction of the two roundabouts at Dan Hoey Road and Shields Road intersections. There will be a new road to use while navigating around the full closure of Baker Road.
The DTE gas line relocation has been part of the plan all along and Emily says, “Unfortunately, DTE was not able to start their work until yesterday and it will take them 3 – 4 weeks to complete their work. They are going to be taking breaks in their work during peak periods in order to help with traffic flow but residents should still expect delays.”
Emily then provided answers to my specific questions.
Q: What is the Road Commission’s planning process?
“The Baker Road roundabout project has been in the works for nearly two years and we are the lead agency. We are trying to coordinate work with the City of Dexter, DTE gas, DTE electric, Comcast, AT&T, Dexter Community Schools and MDOT (who administers the federal grant we received to fund this project). We began meeting with utilities in July of 2017 and have been in contact with all of our partners throughout the planning process. Contractually, the Dexter-Ann Arbor road work is scheduled to be completed by June 1, if it is not, there are financial penalties to the contractor.”
Q: Who makes the final decisions?
“We are the lead agency on this project and we provide deadlines for utilities to be relocated ahead of our road construction work. Decisions on scheduling within those deadlines are made by our partners, based on weather, contractor availability, workload, etc.”
Q: How did it happen that both main roads leading into Dexter have to be worked on at the same time?
“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, the timing didn’t work out with the gas line relocation and paving of Dexter-Ann Arbor Road as we would have liked.”
Q: Couldn’t the DTE gas line relocation have been done earlier, like April?
“Yes, we believe it could have been completed earlier. You can reach out to DTE if you are looking for more information on their scheduling process.”
Q: Was this the intention all along?
“This was certainly not our intention. Road construction always causes disruptions but we do our best to minimize it when we can. We know all of this work in Dexter will cause a lot of headaches this summer but it will all be worth it once the project is complete and the community has brand new infrastructure.”
Q: Residents are calling this “poor planning.” Would WCRC agree with that?
“As you can imagine, there are a lot of moving parts in a project of this size and scope. We have a highly-trained staff with a lot of experience in project management. Our staff does the best they can with all the constraints of project planning but we understand there is always room for improvement.”
As Emily points out, it is a short-term nuisance for some long-term upgrades. WCRC has posted suggested detours around the construction. Emily also suggests Google Maps which has a traffic feature that helps identify heavy traffic spots in real-time.
Emily also adds, “We also ask for everyone’s patience. If residents have questions about the Baker Road roundabout projects, we are hosting a public information meeting on May 22 at the Creekside Cafeteria from 6 – 8 p.m. I will be posting the meeting details to our website this week. I would also encourage residents to sign-up for Baker Road project updates, they can sign-up online here:http://www.wcroads.org/wcrc-project/baker-road-2/”