By Jessica Mathews /

Construction on a roundabout at the intersection of Pontiac Trail and 7 Mile Road in Salem Township starts this week.

The Washtenaw County Road Commission announced that the intersection will be closed to traffic starting Wednesday. Access to the corner General Store will be provided from the east. The Road Commission earlier held a virtual meeting on the project for the public where Project Manager Mark McCulloch detailed the impacts to traffic. Access to corner General Store and residences on the east leg will be provided from the east but other than that, the intersection will be closed to all traffic for approximately eight weeks starting Wednesday. Detour routes will be posted. McCulloch explained that those coming from 7 Mile will have a detour route utilizing Dixboro, Six Mile and Angle Roads to get back to 7 Mile. He said those on Pontiac Trail would utilize Six Mile, Dixboro and 8 Mile Road.

At the meeting, homeowners from the Salem Farm Estates subdivision off 7 Mile, east of Pontiac Trail raised questions about what was being done to prevent cut-thru traffic to Tower Road during the construction as they don’t have sidewalks and many families walk and ride bikes on streets. Project Manager Mark McCulloch said to be candid, not much can be done because people are people. As they are public roads, he said short of the Sheriff’s Office patrolling the situation for people speeding through the neighborhood little that can be done in these instances. McCulloch said they tried to set up a detour route that makes the most sense so people don’t short-circuit through neighborhoods and this was the best solution they could come up with in order to minimize that.

A larger roundabout was originally proposed at the intersection in 2013 but later scrapped. What’s proposed is now a smaller, one lane roundabout with curb and gutter around the circumference of the roundabout, the splitter and center islands, and the intersection itself. A crosswalk will also be built on the east leg as requested by property owners and street lighting will be installed. During the meeting, some residents also raised questions about lighting and the impact on immediate homeowners. McCulloch stated that lighting is required by the state but for the most part has been designed to shine down on the intersection and pavement, as opposed to spilling out onto properties. He noted there will be a change in character but it’s not as intrusive as it might seem and the lighting is beneficial so people have a visual of the roundabout during nighttime conditions.

The Road Commission says message boards will be posted near the intersection to warn motorists about the upcoming closure on Wednesday. As with all projects, the start date could change depending on weather or other scheduling conflicts. A link to the roundabout project page and updates is provided.