Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 13, 2013

Editorial: Good reasons to put off TC road bond

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — If the current Traverse City commission is known for anything, it’s for not letting issues linger.

The commission voted to move ahead with projects at Clinch Park recommended during the Your Bay, Your Say planning effort, including moving the miniature train Spirit of Traverse City off the bayfront.

And commissioners are spending more than 10 times as much on street and sidewalk repairs than had been spent for decades — $1.25 million a year compared to $100,000.

So it was interesting to see commissioners decide to take the slow road on a proposal to borrow up to $20 million to do 20 years’ worth of street and sidewalk work at once.

The short-term logic is compelling — that while new pavement will be a wonderful thing, getting there — or not being able to get there while streets are torn up — won’t be any fun at all.

“Right now look at how much is dug up and you are talking about increasing that tenfold,” said Mayor Michael Estes. “Can we tolerate a city where the whole city is dug up for a couple of years?”

Tolerate? Perhaps. Like? No way.

So the commission agreed with City Manager Ben Bifoss and shelved the bond idea until the spring of 2015.

Beyond putting off the pain, waiting makes sense for other reasons:

StrokeStyle/$ID/Solidn It will give the city more time to figure out how much sewer line replacement work it can do and match that with street plans.

StrokeStyle/$ID/Solidn We’ll know by then if Gov. Rick Snyder has found up to $1.2 billion a year for road work and, if so, how much of that may come Traverse City’s way.

StrokeStyle/$ID/Solidn The city will also know if the county adopted a road bond that would bring an estimated $700,000 a year to the city.

So a decision to wait makes sense.

What commissioners didn’t address is why it may be more tolerable to put up with large amounts of road work in 2015 or later than it would this year or next.

Given that Michigan’s relatively short construction season dovetails almost exactly with Traverse City’s tourism season, there’s no good time to tear up blocks and blocks of pavement.

The end of June and early July is Cherry Festival time. The end of July and early August is Traverse City Film Festival time. The rest of the summer is for getting to the beach and being nice to tourists.

But sooner or later the work has to be done. And usually, sooner is better than later.