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South Airport Road Reconstruction

October 24, 2018

CHALLENGE: High volume traffic; Maintain access to businesses; Weather delays
SOLUTION: Using a different traffic control pattern; Scheduled adjustments and a coordinated effort
OWNER: Grand Traverse County Road Commission
CONTRACT AMOUNT: $2,559,916.00
ENGINEER CONTACT: (231) 922-4849 ext. 209
LOCATION: Traverse City, MI
DATE STARTED: April 23, 2018
DATE COMPLETED: June 5, 2018
PARTNERS: Bella Construction Co., Dale Dukes & Sons, Inc., Give ‘Em A Brake Safety, PK Contracting, J Ranck Electric, Inc., CC Land Surveying


South Airport Road is one of the most travelled roadways in Traverse City and is routinely operating at or above capacity. After years of heavier-than-anticipated traffic, South Airport Road from US-31 to Veterans Drive was in need of a complete reconstruction. 

Team Elmer’s came in as the low bidder on the project and was ready to take on the challenges, one of which was dealing with the heavy traffic on South Airport Road. The owner of the project, Grand Traverse County Road Commission, worked with Team Elmer’s to adopt a different traffic control pattern to help alleviate the impact on travelers. Business owners along the road also needed to be provided with access, as South Airport Road is a large commercial route. 

One challenge Team Elmer’s encountered was weather: Two separate, out-of-the-ordinary winter storms hindered the project start date by two weeks. With this challenge, Team Elmer’s was happy to work with subcontractors that held the same mentality as them – to look at the schedule and see how the team can adjust. With this mentality, Team Elmer’s and their partners were able to finish the South Airport Road project four weeks early, despite the two-week delay. 

Another challenge was removing the old eight-inch thick concrete road ranging from six inches to six feet deep underneath the existing asphalt road that had been built over top the concrete. The old road was 20 feet wide and close to the entire length of the project. It was also in the center of the road, which made it difficult for Team Elmer’s to allow enough room to maintain traffic on one side while working on the other. Using unique traffic control patterns also helped make the concrete road removal safe and successful. 

Taking into account the heavy traffic on South Airport Road, the project consisted of not just reconstructing the road, but adding enhancements to it. 

Following the engineered plans, Team Elmer’s installed a right turn lane east of US-31 and a thru-traffic lane to the west. This creates a better traffic flow through the intersection and has helped alleviate back-ups on South Airport Road. They also installed a thicker cross-section – upgrading to 7-inch asphalt from the previous 4-5 inches. The new asphalt is also a high-stress mix, which will ensure the road lasts longer and holds up against the heavy traffic. 

This project received a lot of praise from the public. Residents were pleased with how quickly the project was finished and how well the traffic control was handled by Team Elmer’s. Many residents have commented on how much easier it was to travel during the construction than they had anticipated. 

By The Numbers

  • Pavement & Sidewalk Removal: 9,268 square yards
  • Milling & HMA Surface Removal: 58,4965 square yards
  • Grading: 7,392 feet
  • Aggregate Base: 42,463 square yards
  • HMA: 20,920 tons
  • Curb & Gutter: 5,889 feet
  • Pavement Marking: 86,153 feet
  • Depth of old concrete road: 6 inches to 6 feet under old asphalt

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