48th Avenue construction to begin in late April

GVL / Emily Frye
Construction to widen 48th street prepares to begin on Sat. April 2, 2016.

Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Construction to widen 48th street prepares to begin on Sat. April 2, 2016.

Drew Howard

The Ottawa County Road Commission (OCRC) is moving forward with construction plans to widen 48th Avenue beginning at the end of this month.

Construction on 48th Avenue is set to take place at the start of Lake Michigan Drive and end about 300 feet past the Copper Beech Townhomes complex. The current plan is to expand the two-lane road into a four-lane boulevard separated by areas of grass in the center.

The expansion will also include the creation of a 10-foot wide non-motorized sidewalk with potential for a lighting district alongside it.

Jerry Alkema, supervisor of Allendale Charter Township, said an increase in lanes on 48th Avenue will help accommodate the already high traffic.

“We’re at a 12,000 traffic count all the way along there, so it’s ready for an upgrade,” Alkema said. “It’s a two-lane road now and the traffic is too much. We could do three lanes and that would satisfy probably another 10 years-worth of capacity, but in 10 years you’d have to rip it all out and do it again, so that wouldn’t make sense.”

The creation of a four-lane highway has a number of advantages, according to Alkema, including an outside lane dedicated to buses.

“The outside pass, or outside lane, is dedicated for busing, because otherwise we’d have to do constant turn outs,” Alkema said. “This (lane) wouldn’t be very disruptive to traffic. Then, anything that comes in the future that changes (48th Avenue) won’t change the bus stop.”

Construction is expected to begin following Grand Valley State University’s exam week, to accommodate students moving off campus.

Brett Laughlin, managing director of the OCRC, said the project will be divided into two phases.

“Phase I will consist of a storm sewer system, southbound roadway, county drain relocation, sidewalk, intersections, restorations and some permanent signage,” Laughlin said. “Phase II will consist of the northbound roadway, permanent signage and pavement markings.”

During phase I, Laughlin said to expect a complete closure of 48th Avenue from the start of M-45 to 1,350 feet south of Pierce Street. The intersection at 48th Avenue and Pierce Street will be closed to all through traffic, while the intersection at 48th Avenue and West Campus Drive will provide temporary access to GVSU.

All northbound and southbound traffic through 48th Avenue at this time will be redirected west through 56th Avenue.

Phase I is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 12, a little more than one week before Transitions week will begin at GVSU.

“The goal of the Phase I completion date is to have the southbound lanes open prior to the majority of the students arriving back to campus in the fall,” Laughlin said. “This will allow for the buses to run their normal routes and schedules.”

Phase II of construction will allow only for southbound traffic, with northbound traffic being directed through the same detour as in Phase I. Intersections at 48th Avenue and Pierce Street as well as 48th Avenue and West Campus Drive will be open to all through traffic.

Phase II will by completed by Sept. 30.

Laughlin said more information about the project will be available following the selection of a contractor and a pre-construction meeting.