TRAVERSE CITY — Area road crews are gearing up for summer road projects despite winter’s icy grip.
The Michigan Department of Transportation laid down temporary asphalt lanes on U.S. 31 last fall for just such a wintry scenario, said Rise Rasch, manager of MDOT’s transportation center in Traverse City. MDOT plans to replace the Petobego Creek culvert on U.S. 31 south of Antrim County beginning April 29 and the asphalt plants won’t start production until the weather warms. Now crews won’t have to wait for asphalt to begin tearing up the road on schedule.
”That’s assuming the snow is gone and its safe to close lanes out there,” Rasch said.
The project will run through July and will close down one lane with signal control.
Grand Traverse County Road Commission Manager Jim Cook said about three miles of reconstruction along North Long Lake Road will pose the most inconvenience for drivers because the road is a corridor for commuters from Benzie and Leelanau counties.
Motorists will be rerouted in early August, when work begins from the Benzie County line to Gilbert Park.
The intersection of North and West Long Lake roads will be improved for sight distance. Crews will remove pavement and reset the subgrade to decrease a hill on North Long Lake Road by about two feet.
”When you’re stopped there and you look up this hill, you can’t see far enough. When someone’s traveling 55 mph, by the time you pull out it may be too late to get out of their way,” Cook said.
Paradise Township’s Summit City and Sparling Road intersection will also be upgraded for visibility with tree clearing and installation of larger stop signs and sign delineators. There’s talk with the township about adding rumble strips and strobe-like lights to signs, Cook said.
That project is funded by a safety grant the commission applied for after a 2010 fatality at the intersection, Cook said. Another crash there in February claimed the lives of two people.
”The one thing I do tell people is that intersection currently meets all requirements for an intersection like that, but we saw there was room for improvement,” Cook said. “Most people say it’s about time.”
Also on the agenda are shoulder replacements at four spots along Gray Road and reconstruction of a two-mile stretch on Holiday Road, which will begin in May and require a single-lane closure.
Road work won’t cause a headache for motorists traveling on Antrim County’s main drags this summer. Road commission Manager Burt Thompson said all projects across the county -- currently estimated at about $480,000 -- will be low-volume and on local streets and subdivisions.
Thompson said crews will focus on routine maintenance within townships. All roads in Bellaire’s Swiss Village East will be treated with a pavement preservation. A crack fill project will take place in Torch Lake Township.
Summer MDOT projects include box culvert replacement at Tobeco Creek Drive near Bates Road in Grand Traverse County slated for May through July, with a temporary traffic signal. Milling and resurfacing is planned for U.S. 131 and Wallace Road in Kalkaska County, with flag control.