The City administration presented an updated street improvement plan to City Council during its December 9, 2019 meeting. (Video of the presentation is available here beginning at the 11:15 mark.) The plan matches funding opportunities to needed projects for the fiscal years 2020 through 2025. These projects are intended to address overall street conditions in the City as reflected in annual surveys.
Projects for consideration are grouped into two categories. Reconstruction projects are those that take place on the most deteriorated streets. These projects often need new pavement, repairs to curbs and gutters and replacement of underground infrastructure such as water mains and sanitary sewers. When identifying which streets to reconstruct, factors taken into consideration include how much traffic the streets carry, the cost of the projects and the availability of grant funds.
In contrast, rehabilitation projects are planned for streets where the pavement shows signs of wear but the road base, curbs, gutters and utility lines are in otherwise good condition. In addressing the more limited need for repairs of these streets, the City has various fixes that it employs such as milling off the old surface and installing new asphalt or sealing the surface to fill small cracks. Criteria for selecting streets for rehabilitation include cost and the rating determined by the annual street condition survey. Efforts are made to spread rehabilitation projects throughout the four quadrants of the City.
The list of streets considered candidates for reconstruction does not change much from year to year. By contrast, streets suitable for rehabilitation can change quite a bit over the course of a year as winter weather and use can cause further deterioration, pushing some of them onto the list for reconstruction. Although it is sometimes tempting to provide a quick fix to a bad street through an inexpensive mill-and-resurface project, this fix is often short-lived and, therefore, a waste of scarce financial resources.
The proposed plan relies heavily on grants available through the Michigan Department of Transportation. Some of these funds, such as those available through the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) program are available to the City only every two or three years. One project, for the Hall-Washington-McClure route is eligible as well for federal Category F funding because the route provides a connection between two state trunkline highways.
The plan also reflects the use of funds the City receives through the County’s 1.5 mill road property tax. This millage was approved by voters at the November 2014 election for a twelve-year period. In addition, the City has dedicated increased state funding received as a result of increases in fuel and other taxes enacted a few years ago to reconstruction and rehabilitation projects.
In addition to need and the availability of grant funds, City staff also proposes projects so as to ensure that funds remain available for routine maintenance projects such as snow removal, sweeping, drainage projects, minor repairs and the like.
As can be seen, the plan proposes to undertake the reconstruction of the Independence Boulevard in the spring of 2020. This project was originally proposed by the administration several years ago as a rehabilitation project but funds were not made available at that time. Conditions have grown worse over the last several years and additional work is now needed including repairs to the base and the installation of edge drains.
In future years, proposed projects include the reconstruction of E. Harris Street between Lansing Road and N. Cochran Avenue, Hall-Washington-McClure Streets between Lansing Road and N. Cochran Avenue, and W. Harris Street between N. Cochran Avenue and N. Sheldon Street. This list is subject to change depending upon the availability of funding and authorization by the City Council.
The City Council will be considering formal approval of the proposed street improvement plan during its meetings on December 23 and January 13. These meetings will take place in the City Hall Council Chambers beginning at 7:00 p.m.
The City Council encourages citizens to express their opinions about actions the Council is considering. For information about submitting comments about matters on the Council’s agenda, please visit the Citizen Comments