TRAVERSE CITY — Jim and Tammy Sofonia use to bump up and down a pothole-pocked stretch of pavement as they drove to and from their Holiday Road home.
Now the ride is like “driving on clouds,” Tammy Sofonia said.
“It is absolutely the smoothest ride in Grand Traverse County right now,” Jim Sofonia added.
The Sofonias marveled at the condition of Holiday Road during a Tuesday ribbon cutting ceremony that marked the end of a collaborative road improvement project between the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, the Grand Traverse County Road Commission, and Acme and East Bay townships.
The bulk of the project’s $1.3 million cost was covered by the Grand Traverse Band using funding from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Dave O’Donahue, a BIA supervisory civil engineer, gave the Grand Traverse Band and the local government agencies credit for the completed improvements during the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“We at the Bureau prefer to be the silent partner,” he said.
Al Pedwaydon, chair of the Grand Traverse Band’s Tribal Council, said a handful of tribal members live along the stretch of Holiday Road that was improved. He talked about what the road use to be like.
“We use to call them potholes when we were coming up the road, but this winter it was more like craters,” Pedwaydon said.
Almost 1.7 miles of Holiday Road were resurfaced during the project, which started in mid-May. The road was re-opened to traffic in mid-June. Team Elmer’s served as the prime contractor.
The completion of the project coincided with a road commission decision to place a local road maintenance millage on county ballots this November in light of stalled efforts by Michigan lawmakers to raise road funding statewide.
State Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Schmidt said he expects some additional road money at the state level as the economy improves, but the main funding question persists.
“It’s a tough one and many of the answers are not politically popular,” Schmidt said.