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Hoffman Bros. and Michigan DOT Partner to Improve M-43 in Ingham County

by: Debra Wood
Hoffman Bros. uses Caterpillar equipment to resurface M-43 in Ingham County.
Hoffman Bros. uses Caterpillar equipment to resurface M-43 in Ingham County.
Cofferdams are installed for muck removal near Nakoma Drive. This is to correct the sidewalk and roadway from continually sinking into the swamp.
Cofferdams are installed for muck removal near Nakoma Drive. This is to correct the sidewalk and roadway from continually sinking into the swamp.
Crews remove muck and backfill with sand near Nakoma Drive.
Crews remove muck and backfill with sand near Nakoma Drive.
Crews place a geotextile and aggregate base material at Okemos Road.
Crews place a geotextile and aggregate base material at Okemos Road.
Cofferdams are used to help with sidewalk and roadway sinkage on Nakoma Drive.
Cofferdams are used to help with sidewalk and roadway sinkage on Nakoma Drive.
Crews remove muck and backfill with sand near Nakoma Drive.
Crews remove muck and backfill with sand near Nakoma Drive.
A $14.7 million project by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will resurface a 3-mile stretch of M-43 and reduce flooding in this section of Ingham County.

“We undertook this project to improve pavement conditions along the M-43 corridor through Meridian Township,” says Aaron Jenkins, Spokesman for MDOT.

In addition to the resurfacing from east of RR Bridge to Oak Point Court, the project includes reconstructions and watermain relocations at the Nakoma Drive and Okemos Road intersections, raising Nakoma Drive and Okemos Road by about 2 feet to minimize flooding affects during 10-year storm events. Crews also will make drainage repairs, sidewalk upgrades to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the add pedestrian islands.

An average of 25,000 vehicles drive on this stretch of road daily. Nakoma Drive and Okemos Road have been prone to flooding during the past several years. M-43 is located on the outer edge of the Michigan State University (MSU) campus.

Partnerships Make It Happen
MDOT collaborated with Meridian Township and the Ingham County Drain Commission to determine the best way to serve the public.

“The project started off as a resurfacing project of M-43 with improvements at Nakoma to correct the sinking lane and sidewalk,” Jenkins says. “As with all projects, during the design phase, MDOT reached out to the local stakeholders for input on the project. The project evolved and transitioned to include storm sewer upgrades, county drain improvements, and raising the grade at Nakoma Drive and Okemos Road – all to improve and help minimize flooding.”

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As a result of the partnership, additional infrastructure upgrades were included in the project, such relocation of 200 feet of a 16-inch watermain and creation of three pedestrian islands installed at locations where frequent midblock crossings have been observed due to access to and from various businesses and apartment buildings.

Most of this section of the corridor is within the 100-year flood plain of the Red Cedar River. Due to the department raising the grade about 2 feet at the Nakoma Drive and Okemos Road intersections, it created additional fill within the floodplain.

“This floodplain fill was offset by creating a compensating mitigation site near the project within the same floodplain,” Jenkins says. “This site was created on existing Meridian Township owned property.”

The work entailed increasing the size of the Okemos and Grettenberger drains within the project limits.

“The Ingham County Drain Commissioner has future plans to upgrade both drains up and down stream of the project limits to further improve drainage capacity in this area,” Jenkins says.

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The project also includes work to eliminate the sinking of the northernmost westbound lane and sidewalk at Nakoma Drive into a swamp.

“Improvements will include removing muck and peat and backfilling with stable material,” Jenkins says. “A permanent section of steel sheeting will be installed providing separation of the roadway and sidewalk from the swamp.”

Crews also will install audible pedestrian signals along the corridor, which Jenkins says, “now makes most signals from MSU campus through Meridian Township fully accessible.”

Initially, the project included joint and crack repairs, but crews noted the good condition of the underlying pavement, and those repairs were not needed.

In addition, MDOT worked with the Capital Area Transportation Authority to include bus stop improvements to meet ADA compliance.

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The majority of funding for the project came from the state’s Rebuilding Michigan Program, upgrading highly traveled highways and bridges important to the state’s economy. WSP of Detroit served as the design consultant.

Utility Challenges
Hoffman Bros. of Battle Creek, Michigan, received the construction contract. The company, founded in 1947, began work on M-43 in April 2022.

The first phase of the project, reconstruction of the north side of Okemos Road, presented challenges associated with underground utilities. Crews had to make adjustments to the county drain and mainline in the field.

“There were large communication ducts, gas main and electric lines that their exact locations couldn’t be verified until exposed,” Jenkins explains. “Since these utilities couldn’t be relocated, the project threaded the county drain through and around these facilities requiring some of the larger storm structures to be shifted and relocated.”

The team had to remake a couple of the structures to accommodate the new alignment and avoid the existing utilities. There was little room for adjustments to the vertical profiles of the county drain.

“One positive thing that came of the some of the reconfiguration of the county drain was the contractor was able to eliminate one of the construction stages of this intersection down from three stages to two stages,” Jenkins says. “This helped offset some of the time lost modifying the original drainage plans during the first stage.”

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Hoffman Bros. used GPS for grading and began asphalt paving in spring-summer of 2022, milling and resurfacing from east of Marsh Road to Oak Point Court, followed by east of the railroad bridge to east of Marsh Road, working first on the north side of the road and then on the south side as traffic was shifted to the newly resurfaced north side.

The work was completed under single lane closures during daytime hours. Crews maintained access to businesses throughout the project. The project is scheduled for completion in June 2023.

Jenkins reports he is proud of the partnership and communication among all entities involved to make this project a success.

Photos courtesy of Michigan Department of Transportation

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