Construction to begin in the spring for two Keystone Road roundabouts
Construction is expected to begin this spring on two new Keystone Road roundabouts at the intersections of Cass Road and River/Beitner Roads. Grand Traverse County Road Commission (GTCRC) commissioners will vote Thursday on whether to award a $3.3 million contract to Elmer’s Crane and Dozer for the two projects, which will force traffic south of Keystone Road to use a South Airport Road/US-31 detour for several months.
The two new roundabouts are among several recommended to be built to improve traffic flow between cities as part of the GTCRC’s East-West Corridor Transportation Study. GTCRC recently completed another such roundabout, at the corner of Hammond and Four Mile Roads, and have been working on preparations for the Keystone Road roundabouts in recent years, including purchasing a house at the corner of Cass and Keystone in 2020 to make way for the redesigned crossroads. When complete, the Cass/Keystone roundabout will feature a new entrance to the Keystone Soccer Complex.
The Keystone/River/Beitner roundabout, meanwhile, will feature an access section leading to a new combination trailhead on the Keystone Dam property. The trailhead will provide park users with a safer way to access the Keystone Dam property and the Nature Education Preserve by combining the county’s Keystone Rapids Trailhead, currently located on the north side of Beitner Road, where it crosses the river, and the Oleson Bridge trailhead. In February, Traverse City Commissioners voted to grant an easement to the GTCRC for the construction of the roundabout. The town owns approximately 54 acres near the roundabout which was the site of the old town-owned Keystone Dam, which was washed away in 1961. The leg requiring a town easement will provide better access to a nursery site from the town which is part of the Natural Education Reserve. The city commissioners also agreed to provide a right-of-way agreement to the GTCRC for road construction and maintenance.
Construction of the Keystone roundabouts could begin in late April or late May, depending on whether or not the GTCRC commissioners agree to a revised schedule proposed by Elmer’s. According to Wayne Schoonover, GTCRC County Highway Engineer and Director of Engineering, the originally planned construction schedule is as follows:
From April 25, 2022 to June 24, 2022
> Keystone, Beitner and River Roads – Build through soil erosion control features and open to traffic by June 24, 2022
> Keystone, Cass and the Keystone Soccer Complex – Utilities and site clearance must be completed by June 24, 2022
From June 27, 2022 to September 2, 2022
> Keystone and Cass Roads – Build through soil erosion control features and open to traffic by September 2, 2022
> MDOT Railroad ROW – No work in the MDOT Railroad ROW until July 5, 2022
> New entrance for Keystone Soccer Complex (east leg of roundabout) – Build through soil erosion control features. Do not open until existing entrance is closed.
From September 6, 2022 to September 30, 2022
> New and existing entrances for Keystone Soccer Complex – Simultaneously open the new entrance for Keystone Soccer Complex and close the existing entrance for Keystone Soccer Complex
However, Elmer’s has offered to cut its original build bid of $3.598 million by $250,000 – bringing the cost down to $3.348 million – and cut the proposed 19-week build schedule by four weeks if GTCRC allows Elmer to delay the start date until May 31 and build both roundabouts simultaneously. The staff of the GTCRC recommends that the commissioners accept this alternative plan. Due to Elmer’s promise to cut the construction schedule by a month, the project is still expected to be completed by September, even if work does not begin until late May. Schoonover indicates that in this scenario, Elmer’s will need to submit a new progress schedule to the GTCRC indicating the shortened construction schedule and when the above milestones will be achieved.
According to Schoonover, phased construction and traffic will be “maintained with northbound one-way traffic on Beitner and Keystone Road” for the duration of the project. However, southbound Keystone traffic will be diverted around the construction area via South Airport Road and US-31/M-37 to Beitner Road. In addition to Elmer’s contract, GTCRC commissioners will vote Thursday on whether to award a $450,000 contract to OHM Advisors for construction engineering services for the project.
Other roundabouts could still be on the horizon. GTCRC director Brad Kluczynski previously said The ticker the county was awaiting a safety grant to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Potter Road and Garfield, with the GTCRC also assessing the feasibility of roundabouts at Hammond/Three Mile and Hammond/Garfield. The latest comprehensive roundabout safety study conducted by the Michigan Department of Transportation found a 49% decrease in total crashes, a 79% reduction in injury crashes, and an 88% decrease in fatal crashes and severe in single lane roundabouts. Double-lane roundabouts saw a 17% decrease in the total number of accidents, a 57% decrease in injury accidents and a 38% decrease in fatal and serious accidents. For traffic flow, a sample of roundabouts was taken, with a 65.1-93.8% reduction in delay when comparing travel times before and after at these intersections.