TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse County road commissioners tapped their new pool of taxpayer money by endorsing just shy of $3.9 million in road improvement projects.
Commission Chair Marc McKellar during a recent meeting said he hoped county residents are ready for a summer full of orange construction barrels and traffic jams as road officials spend funds from the bond millage voters narrowly approved in November.
"I'm not going to complain when I'm sitting in a line of traffic," McKellar said. "I'm not, because I know the money is being well-spent."
Road board members unanimously approved nine projects spread across 40 miles of county roads in 10 townships during their March 6 meeting.
Elmer's Crane and Dozer, Inc. won bids for each of the construction jobs, which range from an $81,500 project on South Airport Road to a $1.6-million project on Supply and Fife Lake roads, commission records show.
Road commission Manager Jim Cook said the projects dovetail with the commission's "mix of fixes" philosophy that calls for a mix of minor and major repairs to maintain and improve the county's roads network. Construction crews, for example, will repair minor problems on South Airport Road between Silver Lake Road and U.S. 31, even though that stretch of pavement is in better shape than many others on South Airport Road.
"We call it preservation," Cook said. "It's basically to preserve South Airport Road so we don't need to reconstruct it five years from now."
The nine projects will cost more than $3.88 million, with the majority of that funding allocated from the bond millage, and a small portion from the commission's general fund. The millage will generate about $4.4 million for local governments each year. The bulk of that sum goes to the road commission.
The road commission's millage projects contract with Elmer's is dated from mid-April to the end of August, but major construction likely won't start until May, county highway engineer James Johnson said during the meeting.
Road commission officials are soliciting bids for a list of general fund projects that cover an additional 32 miles of county roads. How much of that work may be done this year depends on the bids received, unlike the millage projects, which are a done deal, Cook said.
"Those are kind of sacred," he said. "Those will not change."
Cook said the road board will consider the general fund project bids during their March 27 meeting.