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Sashabaw work on the way, officials say



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December 11, 2013 - A $4 million project to improve Sashabaw Road at 1-75 and Waldon Road is a top priority for Independence Township, according to officials.

Plans to improve traffic in the area are being made to prepare for new growth, like a proposed $300 million McLaren hospital on Sashabaw Road and Bow Point Drive near the McLaren health park.

"McLaren is coming up with some pretty significant contributions towards the improvements," said Randy Ford of Hubbell Roth & Clark, the township's engineering firm. "It mixes various funding sources."

Ford discussed the project at a Nov. 19 Board of Trustees meeting. It includes a 443,000-square-foot hospital, which Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle said will add 1,300 employees and a huge financial boost to the local economy.

The project will also include new turning lanes and Sashabaw and Waldon roads. Lanes will also be repainted, and a traffic light installed at the park and ride. The most significant part of the project is a new ramp to southbound Sashabaw Road from northbound 1-75, Ford said.

Widening Sashabaw north to DTE Music Auditorium may also be included, which will help ease traffic during entertainment events, he said.

"That's one significant improvement we think will not only help during the afternoon peak rush hour of people trying to head southbound on 1-75, but also when you do have a concert event at DTE in the summertime," said Ford. "The level of service currently in the area is rather poor, and will only be exacerbated when we get additional growth in the area."

Future growth expected in the area was considered throughout the project, which the improvements will accommodate, he said.

On Oct. 30, McLaren, based in Flint, announced it had acquired assets from the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute based out of Detroit.

McLaren's Vice President of Marketing Kevin Tompkins said despite the acquisition McLaren would continue to fight to build the hospital in Clarkston.

McLaren sued the state of Michigan after the denial of a Certificate of Need (CON). In May, the CON was denied again for the third time in two years.

The lawsuits was filed in June after the Michigan Department of Community Health, which approves licenses of hospital beds, denied a request from McLaren to move 200 beds from a facility in Pontiac to Independence Township.

A decision is now in the hands of Oakland County Circuit Court, Judge Colleen O'Brien.

A decision is expected anytime.

Kittle said regardless of whether the hospital is built or not, McLaren has already committed $1.5 million to fund the road improvements in the township.

The Sashabaw Road corridor has about 190 acres of undeveloped land.

A three-story 80-plus-bed Comfort Inn Hotel near Culver's and Taco Bell on Sashabaw is also in the works.

Kittle said plans for the hotel are in the very beginning stages of planning, but the road improvements will help attract new business.

Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.
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