Sturgis Wins National Award For Pleasant Avenue Project
By: Mike Stiles - Wednesday, September 22, 2021

(top photo - left to right) Neil DeWitt, Fishbeck, Inc,. Barry Cox, Sturgis City Engineer, Mary Joyce Ivers, APWA President (photo courtesy of City of Sturgis) (bottom photo) Pleasant Avenue (photo courtesy of Mike Stiles/Swick Broadcasting)

(STURGIS) – The City of Sturgis has won a National award for their work on restoring Pleasant Avenue.

City officials say Sturgis has won the American Public Works Association's 2021 Public Works Project of the Year Award. Sturgis won in the Historical Restoration/Preservation category, in the “projects less than $5 million” division for its reconstruction of Pleasant Avenue.

The Pleasant Avenue project, which was started in 2020, reconstructed a 945 foot long stretch of road with recovered brick pavers. The 100 plus year-old brick pavement was in exceptionally poor condition. Over time, the concrete base under the brick failed, leading to an undulating surface with many dips, cracked bricks, and utility patches.

The Pleasant Avenue Project had a price tag of $1.16 million. Sturgis was awarded a $622,000 Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grant by the Michigan Department of Transportation to assist with reconstruction while preserving the historical appearance of the street. The north 250 feet, adjacent to the downtown, was redeveloped with a place-making streetscape that included string lighting over the street as well as water and electric infrastructure to support food trucks and community events.

The City of Sturgis has been working about a decade to rehabilitate and replace its three existing brick streets on S. Nottawa Street, Pleasant Avenue, and West Main Street. The brick streets date back to 1915, when the City installed six brick street segments in town. Over the years, all but these three had been removed or paved over with asphalt. For many years a significant portion of the community desired to find a way to maintain the historical and charming aspect of these last three streets. When work began to develop a rehabilitation plan for these areas in the early 2010s, each street was in poor condition and in need of action.

Sturgis was able to partner with the City of Grand Rapids, who had experience and knowledge with brick street replacement projects and grants to develop a vision and path forward. The City began working with Fishbeck, Inc. to develop a feasible master plan to replace the brick streets. For the Pleasant Avenue project, the City also enlisted the assistance of OCBA Landscape Architects to complete a design charrette with the community for the north end streetscape portion of the project.

In August 2012, the Sturgis City Commission was presented and approved a ten-year brick street master plan to reconstruct all three street segments. Using the federal government’s Transportation Enhancement and Transportation Alternatives grant programs, the City completed South Nottawa Street in three phases from 2014 through 2017 utilizing new brick pavers. Existing clay brick pavers from these projects were salvaged for use on Pleasant Avenue and eventually, West Main Street.


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