The Fred Meijer Standale Trail runs 6.5 miles between the city of Walker and Grand Rapids, but had one problem spot. Commuters, GVSU students, recreationalists, and residents using the trail had to cross Lake Michigan Drive at the nearest signaled intersection a half mile away. Many took the risk of waiting for a large-enough traffic gap to cross five lanes of traffic.
Walker hired Prein&Newhof to do topographic survey, soil borings, utility relocation coordination, easement acquisition, design, construction administration for a 14-feet by 10-feet tunnel, pedestrian plaza, stacked stone retaining wall, security cameras, lighting and landscaping; construction staking, material testing, public relations, utility coordination and construction observation.
Engaging MDOT, Consumers Energy, AT&T, DTE, the City of Grand Rapids and METC early in the preliminary design process made this project easier. Each had critical facilities or utilities affected by this project and it was important to seek accommodations from each of them to make this project work. Prein&Newhof worked with a local contractor to locate existing utilities in the project area during preliminary design. The information provided by this effort had significant implications to the later design of the tunnel.
Finding adequate funding for the project was also a challenge. The amount needed increased over the final 12–18 months for two reasons: the construction market tightened since the original estimate, and the proposed location of the tunnel changed because of existing utility locations and construct-ability concerns. The new tunnel location made it much easier to build, but required more concrete construction on the approaches.
The tunnel’s design and vision came from the City of Greenville’s tunnel under M–57 and Meijer’s tunnel under Three Mile Road, both of which Prein&Newhof also designed. Having these successful examples in hand helped Walker gain the support and funding to get the Standale tunnel built.
The design team proposed a phasing plan that saved the project and City over $100,000. P&N’s phasing plan included a weekend shutdown of Lake Michigan Drive, which eliminated any need for temporary paving or temporary retaining walls to maintain traffic during construction. The project team worked with all stakeholders including MDOT, City of Grand Rapids, Standale DDA, and Grand Valley State University to get approval of this plan.
The design team also proposed a 2,000-ft-long horizontal directional drill storm sewer installation to provide a gravity drainage outlet for the tunnel. P&N engineers determined this construction method to be the only workable choice due to the proximity of existing electrical transmission lines.