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Michigan Municipal League

Press Release


Matt Bach
Director of Communications
Michigan Municipal League
(734) 669-6317; C: (810) 874-1073;


Sterling Heights Honored with Better Streets, Better Michigan Award

Michigan Municipal League, MDOT Recognize Macomb County Community for its Innovating Roadways Project

LANSING, Michigan — The city of Sterling Heights received a statewide award Wednesday for its “Innovating Roadways” project that involved multiple components to make the city a more welcoming and pedestrian-friendly community.

The Better Streets, Better Michigan Award was given to Sterling Heights officials Wednesday, March 21, during the Michigan Municipal League's annual Capital Conference at the Lansing Center in Lansing. More than 500 municipal officials and community supporters from throughout the state were in attendance to view Sterling Heights officials receive the award. The honor is a joint recognition by the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Department of Transportation.

"At MDOT, our goal is to aid personal mobility whether you walk, ride a bike, take a bus or train or drive a vehicle," said MDOT Director Kirk Steudle. "We are pleased to work with communities across Michigan pursuing creative ways to improve the quality of life of their citizens. This Better Streets, Better Michigan Award, established in partnership with the Michigan Municipal League, puts a nice spotlight on those collaborative efforts."

The Michigan Municipal League represents more than 500 Michigan cities, villages and urban townships, and League officials were excited about the chance to partner with MDOT in this new recognition, said League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin.

"The League believes in the concept of placemaking and helping communities create places and spaces that people love," Gilmartin said. "This Better Streets, Better Michigan Award is an excellent way to celebrate and honor those communities who are embracing placemaking."

The award recognizes a Michigan city or village that has undertaken a creative road project to improve the function and aesthetics of a busy street for a variety of transportation uses, including driving, bicycling and walking.

Sterling Heights, Michigan’s fourth largest city with a population of 129,699, won the competitive award for creatively reconstructing major corridors within the city. The project and site redesigns included improved sidewalks, a shared use path, decorative lighting, and colorful landscaping to welcome pedestrians and drivers to Sterling Heights. These projects not only involve state-of-the-art construction to increase the longevity of roads, but also are more efficient for traffic and friendlier to walkers, runners and cyclists, said Sterling Heights City Manager Mark Vanderpool.

"We are extremely honored to receive this award," Vanderpool said. "Under the Visioning 2030 plan, community leaders adopted a new way of thinking that involves focusing on growing Sterling Heights’ ‘sense of place.’ Our focus is on creating a vibrant, inclusive community for residents and businesses that is safe, active, progressive and distinctive.”

Judges of the contest included officials from the League and MDOT. The judges were impressed with Sterling Heights’ creative approach to taking a vehicle-centric atmosphere and transforming that into an environment that is welcoming to all users.

These projects focused on abundant landscaping, a complete streets design that included sidewalks and bike paths, energy efficient LED lighting, the incorporation of public art and colored crosswalks.

"It was important to make the area appealing to walkers, runners and cyclists to have positive pedestrian experiences and safe vehicular interactions," Vanderpool said. "We decided if the experience is pleasant then people will be encouraged to engage in the space in a more meaningful way."

“Businesses are investing billions in Sterling Heights and expect the city is doing all that is possible to make commercial corridors inviting and distinctive for thousands of motorists who drive along the corridors daily, in addition to more and more pedestrian traffic,” said Sterling Heights Mayor Michael C. Taylor. “These amenities represent a small percentage of the overall improvement of a roadway and therefore are prudent investments.” 

This is the second year of the Better Streets, Better Michigan Award program. Future applicant projects should be aimed at improving the function and aesthetics of a busy street for a variety of transportation modes – cars, bikes, and pedestrians. Examples include road diets, complete streets projects, and similar investments within existing rights of way. The street must be one of the community's main roadways that was primarily auto-centric at the start of the project. Projects accomplished through a team effort between a city or village and MDOT or a local or regional transportation agency are eligible to receive this award.

For photos of Sterling Heights receiving the award, go to this Michigan Municipal League "Award Recipients" album on flickr: Photos can be downloaded from the League's flickr page for free. We just ask that the following photo credit be given: Flickr Photo Michigan Municipal League/

For additional information, contact the League’s Matt Bach, director of communications, at (734) 669-6317 (office) and

About the League: Michigan Municipal League is dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. Learn more at




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