Traverse City Averages $4.5 Million In Projects Yearly. This 12 months? $32 Million
If you’ve felt like you’re in a video game navigating the maze of barriers and detours in Traverse City this year, there are good reasons for it. According to City Engineer Tim Lodge, Traverse City spends an average of $ 4.5 million annually on investment projects. This year’s balance sheet? $ 32 million. Lodge gave city commissioners a rundown on Monday of the various projects underway across the city and what residents can expect next, including the full replacement of the West Front Street bridge, which began this week and will last through the end of June will.
When Lodge first entered town in 2003, a typical year of construction typically included $ 2 million in project work. That number has grown to $ 4-6 million over the years, with a normal average of $ 4.5 million. But project work skyrocketed to $ 32 million in 2021, including $ 24 million for ongoing projects and an additional $ 8 million for projects “recently completed or projects in which we are involved or that we started with, ”Lodge told the commissioners.
Work on four major bridges in the downtown area adds significantly to that total, including a nearly $ 5 million contract this summer to repair the Park Street, East Eighth Street and South Cass Street bridges. Park Street reopened on September 2, and Cass and Eighth are expected to reopen in early to mid-November, according to the Lodge. The crews are pouring the sidewalk on Cass and are working on installing the aqueduct on the eighth this week. Work also began on Monday on the fourth and most intensive of the bridge projects: the complete replacement of the West Front Street bridge (pictured).
This nearly $ 3.8 million project requires the bridge to be closed by the end of June and will eliminate on-street parking from J&S Hamburg to Hall Street during construction. Lodge says the city is working with J&S to maintain access to their private parking lot, but that customers will have to park elsewhere at some point. Lodge says the city also plans to work with BATA on bus routing for its downtown interchange on Hall Street (traffic on the Western Front is on Hall Street, Grandview Parkway, Union Street, State Street, and Pine Street around the bridge area). ). The project faces additional challenges as workers are banned from working in the river in spring, concrete cannot be poured in winter, and AT&T pipes run through the project site that need to be worked on without interrupting operations. Despite these challenges, the employees say the project cannot wait: the Western Front Bridge is rapidly deteriorating – its crumbling structure is clearly visible to the naked eye – and urgently needs to be replaced.
While some residents wonder why the city is tackling all four bridge projects at the same time,
Lodge notes that this enabled the city to bundle three of the bridge projects into one package, putting together an offer that was attractive enough to target contractors with bridge work in a nationwide market. An estimated $ 200 million in additional bridge work will be underway in Michigan this year, allowing contractors to pick the “largest, most cost-effective jobs,” Lodge told commissioners. He noted that some bridge projects in the Upper Peninsula have not attracted any contractors at all due to the competitiveness of the market. Lodge tells The Ticker that the bridge repairs are “once in a lifetime” projects where the city will have to weigh the impact of turning them all off at once rather than dragging them out over several years. Two other bridge projects will be carried out either in the fall of 2022 or in the spring of 2023: the refurbishment of the South Union Street and North Cass Street bridges. Lodge notes that these projects do not involve a complete replacement of the bridge, only replacement of the decks, which requires shorter closing times.
The bridge repairs are just a few of the projects that will add to the city’s $ 32 million investment this year. Lodge has provided updates to several others including:
> Pavement work: 2021 was the final year of a four-year, $ 4.5 million collaborative project to repair and install sidewalks across the city. Lodge said the project was two percent over budget and included repairing 3.6 miles of the existing sidewalk and building another 5.2 miles of new sidewalks this year alone. The city is also tackling $ 2.4 million in sidewalk and other connectivity improvements through Safe Routes to School, which is well on its way to being seven percent below budget. Lodge noted Monday that the city had to drop a planned section of the sidewalk on Barlow Street south of Boon Street because drainage problems prevented the city from getting approval from the Grand Traverse County Road Commission for the design.
> Roundabouts, culverts & conversions: The city was three percent below budget in the recent construction of a new $ 721,000 roundabout on Parsons and Airport Access roads, largely funded by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). All over town, crews are racing to complete a major project to replace three culverts along Cedar Street and Sixth Street. Lodge said he was “concerned” about reaching a target completion date in late October, despite contractors saying they would find a way to get the job done. Two pedestrian bridges will also be built to replace culverts on the old railroad line between Division Street and the former power station in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons and on an abandoned Elmwood Avenue slope between Eleventh Street and Silver Lake Road. In addition to the new bridges, the natural stream will be restored at these points. On the rebuilding front, Lodge said, staff have begun planning a $ 2 million to $ 2.5 million rebuilding of Madison and Jefferson Streets that has been in the works for years and is scheduled to take place in 2022 or 2023.
> Parks & hiking trails: Completing the Boardman Lake Trail Loop is another major project that is making its way into the city ledgers this year. Lodge said work on the final phase of building the road from NMC University Center to Medalie Park is in full swing. The project is on track for completion in August 2022; The consulting firm Prein & Newhof publishes weekly construction updates on its website. The city is also tackling several park projects, including improvements to Hickory Hills that include an expansion of snowmaking in the forest worth $ 110,000, more lighting on hills, an expansion of the disc golf course, a study of mountain bike trails, terrain Park functions and plans to demolish or repurpose the old hut. City commissioners will also be asked to approve the hiring of a consultant next week to oversee improvements at Indian Woods Park, including new sidewalk and playground features.
Lodge notes that there are even more projects happening outside of the list he presented to city commissioners on Monday, from downtown parking projects to Traverse City Light & Power improvements to the Union Street Dam location where city workers may soon be Interim repairs must be carried out until legal disputes with FishPass can be resolved. Sewer and water repairs are another major investment area: Stadtwerke Stadtwerke Art Krueger said Monday the city had recently been approved by the state for a 20-year loan of 1.875 percent for sewage repairs, including $ 2.86 million on planned first year funding to address the retaining wall in downtown Boardman River – with potentially $ 428,000 in loan waiver – and up to $ 14.5 million in repairs to the wastewater treatment plant.
With more projects on deck in 2022 and 2023 – including rebuilding East Front Street in 2022 and Grandview Parkway in 2023, and strategic planning for the future of the Senior Center – and ongoing COVID funding to both public as well as promoting private projects, Lodge says Traverse City’s 2021 banner year is likely to continue as an “investment bubble” for the next several years. This means that the city can continue to invest significantly more than the average in recent years in important infrastructure measures, according to the city engineer. “Until all is said and done, we can notice an increased level of activity for a while,” he says.