With the federal government footing most of the bill, the Washtenaw County Road Commission will construct a three-legged roundabout at Woodland Drive and Textile Road in 2020. Officials from the road commission visited Saline City Council at its work session meeting Nov. 19.
The federal government is contributing $456,000 to the project. With ramps, curbs, streetlights and work to enclose open ditches, the total cost is expected to be $631.000. The city, which owns a third of the intersection, is expected to pay about $58,000.
Tree removal will begin in late 2019 or early 2020. The three month construction project is expected to begin in the summer of 2020. The intersection will be closed to all traffic during construction.
According to Brent Schlack, assistant director of engineering for the road commission, said the county submitted two proposals to the federal government for a safety grant. In September of 2016, 50-year-old Michael Mullenix was riding a motorcycle east on Textile when a westbound-vehicle driven by an 82-year-old woman attempted to turn on to Woodland, causing a collision. Mullenix died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.
Schlack said there have been other, less serious collisions at the intersection, which sees about 8,500 vehicles a day on Textile Road and 3,600 a day on Woodland Drive.
Currently, Woodland Drive traffic stops for Textile Road traffic. There is a mid-block pedestrian crossing.
The county submitted two projects for funding. The first was the roundabout. The second project included a center-left turn pocket on Textile Road.
“To be completely honest, we never anticipated the roundabout option would be chosen,” Schlack said.
Schlack said the project should also help eliminate some congestion at the intersection.
As part of the project, the county will pave about 300 feet of Woodland Drive in the city.
A draft of the roundabout plant shows curves in the lead to the intersection. On the east side of the roundabout, there’s a crosswalk to Tefft Park.
Saline Mayor Brian Marl was supportive of the plan.
“I really don’t have any issue contributing $58,000 to a roundabout improvement project at Woodland and Textile. The data is overwhelming that roundabouts are not only effective for moving traffic and improving safety,” Marl said. “The problem with roundabouts are not the roundabouts, it’s that people don’t know how to use them.”
Marl asked city staff if the city could find a way to improve the rest of Woodland Drive in 2020.
DPW Director Jeff Fordice said the city will get through its millage process, work on its capital improvements plan to see if there are any opportunities to combine projects and save money. Fordice said the city will also explore reclassifying to the road to make it eligible for federal funds.
“To minimize the impact on the Rec Center, we could take a ‘do-it-all-at-once’ approach,” Fordice said.
Answering a question from Councillor Dean Girbach, Schlack said the left-turn option would have cost about $300,000 – a lot cheaper than the roundabout.