Cornell Road Improvements

UPDATE (10/15/13):
Construction has begun on the Cornell Road improvements, with work scheduled to be complete by mid-November.

UPDATE (7/25/13):
At the July 23 meeting, the Township Board opted for a “crush and shape” option that included the hill-cut south of Tihart Road. Excessive cost of the original Task Force recommendation was a driving factor that resulted in a 5 - 1 vote for the less-costly option.

UPDATE (7/19/13):
At the July 9 meeting, the Township Board voted to proceed with improvements to Cornell Road, including pavement realignments to allow the installation of paved and unpaved shoulders that minimized the number of trees adversely impacted by the improvements, improved drainage, and other provisions of the Cornell Road Task Force, at a cost not to exceed $900,000. The Task Force met on Friday July 12, and has proposed three options:

  1. The original Task Force recommendation, including hill cuts, shoulders and guardrails, at a projected cost of $1,154,000. This option would be paid for from the Road Millage funds for 2013 and 2014.
  2. The “crush and shape” option, which would rehabilitate the existing roadbed by using crushed asphalt from the Marsh Road repaving project, and paving with 4 inches of new asphalt. There would be no realignment and no widening of the roadway. The estimated cost of this option is $600,000 and would be financed by the 2013 Road Millage.
  3. Do nothing this year.

The Township Board will likely take action on this project at its July 23 meeting.


In April, the Meridian Township residents learned of an $850,000 plan by the Ingham County Transportation and Roads Department to “improve” a two-mile stretch of Cornell Road, north of Grand River Ave, and extending to Orlando Drive. The proposal went far beyond replacing the deteriorating road surface; it included the installation of shoulders, larger drainage ditches, and the removal of all nearby trees and brush to establish a 15-ft clear zone on both sides of the road. At the Meridian Township public hearing to consider the proposal, both residents and Board members voiced their objections to the removal of an estimated 500 trees, including several large “heritage” trees. The special stature of Cornell Road through its designation as one of two “Natural Beauty” roads in the county was cited as a reason to alter the standard plans for road improvement, and a task force was created to suggest an alternative plan.

As reported by Dawn Parker in the June 23rd editions of the Towne Courier and the Lansing State Journal, the task force recommendations greatly reduced the number of trees that would be removed, reportedly down to 25 dead trees and 10 living ones, which seem to be marked by large blue dots. Other recommendations include a 10-foot clear zone (6 feet beyond the edge of the gravel shoulder), with realignment of the road from 3-5 feet of its position to allow large trees to be spared. The new plans include 10-foot roadway lanes, 3-foot paved shoulders, 1-foot gravel shoulders, 3,500 feet of guardrail, improved drainage, and the cutting of two hills. The task force echoed the sentiment of the Township and County Commission Boards that the speed limit be reduced to 35 mph along the entire length of the project. The cost of the new plan will be about $800,000 of which ~$200,000 is for the installation of wooden guardrails between the roadway shoulder and groups of trees within a few feet of the roadway, as well as along areas with steep embankments leading down to wetland areas.

A decision on the task force recommendations will likely be made at the July 9 Board meeting.