Road Reconstruction and Streetscape Project Increases Pedestrian Safety, Improves Public Space and Catalyzes Community Redevelopment
In 2016, the City of Rochester Hills partnered with OHM Advisors to create a revitalization plan for its Auburn Road commercial corridor. Owned by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the thoroughfare was once a busy east-west connection at the border of Oakland and Macomb counties until construction of the M-59 freeway led to it becoming less traveled and an overall area downturn.
Our multidisciplinary team helped the City create a comprehensive plan for the corridor’s reconstruction after the City acquired ownership of the road from MDOT—a plan that engaged the public to evaluate the desires and needs of affected businesses and residents, encouraged traffic calming, improved pedestrian safety and walkability, improved public space and developed an enhanced streetscape for a central business district that would instill the community with a renewed identity. Excitement for the project was so robust that the scope of the project grew from reconstruction of the road and the streetscape renovation to include the construction of the Brooklands Plaza central community gathering space complete with modern seating, evening lighting and seasonal splash pad.
Integrating important feedback from the community, our team’s strategic road design included eliminating cross streets through the corridor, moving vehicle parking for commercial businesses to the rear of the buildings and off of the main thoroughfare, implementing compact urban roundabouts along the corridor for traffic calming, and creating boulevard-style drive lanes and space for on-street parking. Our award-winning urban design for the renewed streetscape included safer roadway crossings and a pedestrian focus, gateway and branding elements, decorative fencing, and green infrastructure elements including the implementation of nearly 50 raingardens.
This expansive, multi-stage project has served as a catalyst for community redevelopment, igniting other public and private planning efforts in pursuit of a better quality of life for residents and a true entrepreneurial ecosystem for independent business owners. The end result is a safer, more connected and walkable community corridor that supports future economic development, spurs people to engage with each other and renews community pride.
Project highlights: roundabouts, splash pad, public plaza, green infrastructure, transportation engineering, planning, landscape architecture, urban design, streetscape design, stormwater management, community engagement
The initial investments have already brought new energy into this neighborhood. The reduced traffic speeds and new streetscape create a much safer experience for pedestrians and motorists and a reconnection of the neighborhoods to the north and south of Auburn Road has begun.