Grand Traverse County’s Hammond Road Sees Improvements, Delays

“I can't imagine this intersection being closed is going to be smooth for a lot of people.”

Work is underway in Grand Traverse County on a major road project, and drivers will be noticing the delays for weeks.

That road project along a major east-west route includes crushing the existing road, resurfacing, and adding an additional lane for traffic.

You may have heard the joke that in Michigan we have the winter season, summer tourism season—and road construction season. And that’s exactly what’s happening on Hammond Road.

But this is no joke: there are two sections to this project and it could take the next several weeks to complete.

GT Road Commission Highway Engineer Wayne Schoonover says, “This is our opportunity now to make it all a consistent five lanes. We have safety wrapped up into the design and we give (drivers using) that center left-turn lane refuge.’” Hammond Lafranier

This roadwork actually represents two separate projects.

“We’ve had, you know, four-lane to five-lane sections and we’re reconstructing two pieces of roadway from LaFranier to Garfield,  and Garfield to Townline. And they’re both going to be five lanes with a center left turn lane.”

The first section is the shorter project. Crews started there last week from LaFranier to Garfield. The roadwork is underway right now. This weekend, they’ll be paving through the Garfield intersection and that entire leg of the project should be finished about a week from now.

Hammond 3Schoonover says work has also begun on part two of the project.

“The next section is going to take about another five to five-and-a-half weeks to do. That section is twice as long.”

Part two is Garfield to Townline Road–inconveniencing drivers and continuing to force a detour for anyone who uses Hammond between Garfield and Three Mile. Schoonover says that portion of the project should last until Halloween.

But, he adds, the detours will speed up the construction process.

“Both of these routes, when they’re under construction, are full detoured routes that allow our contractors to move at very fast paces in a safe manner. It does allow the contractor to move much quicker and get the projects done. So if [drivers] bear with us we’re going to get these done and get out of there and turn the road back over to them.” Hammond 2

Justin Perry travels Hammond Road frequently.

“I drive it, twice every day. To and from (the) Long Lake area, for work. I always have to avoid it.”

While the roadwork has so far allowed for local traffic to squeeze through temporarily, that will be coming to an end as the work intensifies. Perry says he has already seen “a lot of people turning around in random driveways. A lot of people shuffling through the gas stations here, trying to figure out where to go. And a lot of people heading that direction and not having any idea what’s going on.”

Hammond DetourSchoonover acknowledges the detour can present drivers with a frustrating alternative.

“You can’t do a road construction without inconveniencing the public. Our goal is to inconvenience them as little as possible.”

Some drivers have taken their frustrations online, pointing out the timing of the project as it relates to the start of the school year, or more specifically, TCAPS returning to in-person classes this week.

Schoonover adds, “Hammond is one of our busiest roads in the county, so it behooves us to get it done early or get it done late in the season, so we’re minimizing the impact all the way around.”

And he points out this road work has been planned for a long time, prior to COVID and before any changes with school schedules.

“This has been in the works for a year for the local (longer) section… (and) the section from Lafranier to Garfield we are utilizing federal urban aid, so that’s been in the works for a couple years.”