Newly renovated 48th Avenue opens for fall semester

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - 48th Ave. final construction on Thursday, August 18, 2016.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff – 48th Ave. final construction on Thursday, August 18, 2016.

Kyle Bindas

The newly transformed 48th Avenue will be open in time for fall semester at Grand Valley State University, said Jerry Alkema, Allendale Charter township supervisor.

The construction project was a total overhaul of 48th Avenue, transforming the road from two lanes to a four-lane highway with a grass median in the center.

Also included in the project is a dedicated lane for buses and bicycles, a sidewalk that runs along the west side of the street, and new stop lights and street lights along the road.

“All the way through the project, you can definitely see that pedestrian pathways, bicycles, busing, everything will flow better this way,” Alkema said.

Construction took place on 48th Avenue from Lake Michigan Drive, to past Pierce Street, about 300 feet past the entrance to Copper Beech townhomes. Beyond these points the road will stay at two lanes.

Traffic patterns will be changing at the intersection of Pierce Street and 48th Avenue, which was previously a four-way stop with a blinking red light, is now a three-light signal-controlled intersection.

The addition of a sidewalk and a median provides a safe way for pedestrians to traverse the road, which has many businesses and apartment complexes along its span. Before the addition of a sidewalk pedestrians were forced to walk on the shoulder or on the grass along the road. Pedestrians now have a safer alternative to what was a potentially dangerous trek.

Discussions and planning for this project have been going on for a long time. Alkema said planning started in the late 1990s.

“A lot of thought has been put into this over the last few years, so we’re pretty excited about seeing it wrapping up,” Alkema said.

The improvements along the street will solve a variety of problems in safety and congestion, as well as accommodate for future traffic growth, according to the 48th Avenue Environmental Assessment.

According to the report, “the improvements recommended along the corridor will address and resolve operational issues as well as provide a connected multi-use path.”

Funding came from a combination of federal and county sources, with 80 percent of funds coming from the Surface Transportation Program, and the remaining 20 percent coming from the Ottawa Country Road Commission.

According to Alkema, only some landscaping and the installing of street light fixtures remain in the project. There is no estimated date of completion.