Bridges & Roads

By: Al Cavasin

(Note: I’ve written and blogged about this more than a dozen times since 2016, you can find all by researching my Supervisor’s Blog on the website or by searching our Face Book page.)

It’s been quite a year for our local infrastructure; a long, unbelievably wet spring followed by a virtually unending series of torrential downpours of biblical proportions coupled with existing potholes, runnels, washouts and erosion combined to make driving a torture on many of our roads. Fortunately, with the help of the good folks at JCDOT we were able to keep the damage mitigated to where the roads were passable even after the worst of our storms.

If you will recall, a few years ago we floated a road repair millage request that, had it passed, would have allowed us to bring ALL of our township roads up to an excellent standard and guaranteed we had funding to maintain them in that condition for the foreseeable future. For whatever reason, you slapped that request down by an overwhelming margin, and in that I learned my lesson. I will never do that again.

We did, however, secure a maintenance millage of 0.93 which provided us with funding to do some moderate repair in 2018-2019 and allowed us to completely rebuild all of the gravel roads in the township in 2021 (excepting Warner Rd. – more on that in a second). As bad as conditions were, JCDOT, under the direction of Jim Cole, managed to stay on top of the washouts and get them regraded and regraveled within a day or two. For that, I am deeply grateful.

But we’ve spent just about everything we have in the repair kitty and the millage is now expired, so the prospects aren’t promising.

As I type this we have less than $50,000.00 available, and if you know anything about road construction or repair, that won’t even get our roads swept. Any of them. So here’s where we’re at: as I said we had all our gravel roads rebuilt last year from the base up – except Warner Rd., which is pretty much the worst of our gravel roads. We had Warner regraded and regraveled to get it up to driveable condition, but I wanted to see if we could do something more permanent with it, and I requested JCDOT look into it and get back with me.

I spoke with Jim Cole a few weeks ago and he recommended a special treatment where they take the road down to its base, reform and regrade it then build it back up using gravel with a special binder in it that will produce a much harder and longer lived road. If it were up to me, I’d have already done it. There’s only one small problem: it will cost the Township $123,000.00 and we don’t have it. And I’ve already told you I’m not going to make another millage request. But we do have options and I am writing this now to give you time to put things together and make this happen if that’s what you want.

What is needed is a citizen’s coalition of those who want to see better roads to organize themselves and reach out to their friends, family and neighbors and convince them to support a millage request. Once you have a good solid base of support, bring it to me and I’ll get the ballot language together and help you get it on the ballot. It will be up to you to make it happen. This is your community, they’re your roads and it’s your life. If you want change, you will need to make it happen, these roads won’t fix themselves.

And Now for Bridges…

As for our bridges, most of you will recall our Cornell Rd. Bridge over the Kalamazoo was condemned in 2020 and immediately closed to traffic. Due to some Herculean efforts on the part of JCDOT and Jim Cole, we had the bridge replaced and reopened before opening day that year which I believe is a record for that type of work. And it did not cost the Township a nickel, not a nickel! Which is great, I’m sure you’ll agree – problem is – it isn’t our only problem bridge.

The bridge over the Kalamazoo on Albion at Behling Rd. It is in fairly deplorable condition and needs to be replaced as well. We cannot replace it with a wooden bridge as we did on Cornell Rd., because of its size, the weight load and amount of traffic it must carry. Consequently, that bridge will be somewhere North of $1,000,000.00 to replace, probably far North and I doubt the Township will get out of that one anywhere near as cheap and easy. For the past year I have been working with JCDOT to try and find grant money or state or federal funding to help us with replacement costs, and I’ve written several letters in support of their efforts. I’ll keep you posted as to our progress, as always….

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