TRAVERSE CITY — Four bridge projects in downtown Traverse City long in the works could start in 2020 despite another setback, and the city has a grant to build a new roundabout.
Those are two of many items city planning commissioners heard about during a recent overview of the city’s six-year Capital Improvement Program plan.
They’re set to hear public comments on the full document Feb. 4, and city commissioners later will budget for items they actually want to see built from July 2020 through June 2021, city Planning Director Russ Soyring said.
The Michigan Department of Transportation sought more details on long-proposed work for the West Front Street, Park Street, South Cass Street and Eighth Street bridge projects, city engineer Tim Lodge said.
That came after a consultant completed a technical review of the bridge work in December.
MDOT’s Local Bridge Program awarded funds for part of each bridge project, putting up $750,000 for Eighth Street, $850,000 for South Cass Street, $850,000 for Park Street and $850,000 for West Front Street as previously reported.
A few delays held up the projects, including a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2017.
Lodge said after the meeting there’s no danger of losing the funding but MDOT wants the projects done as quickly as possible.
He and his department will review the department’s response and resubmit the review.
Lodge told planning commission Chairwoman Linda Koebert there won’t be any bridge work in the spring but possibly in the summer.
Which bridge gets done first isn’t set, Lodge said. But there are two he doesn’t want to do at the same time: South Cass Street and Eighth Street.
“Because one serves as a detour for the other, I think those cannot be done at the same time,” he said.
MDOT will fund two more bridge projects, one for the South Union Street bridge and another for the North Cass Street bridge, Lodge said. Both involve replacing the bridge decks, and work on those is set to begin in 2021.
The city is set to turn the Parsons and Airport Access roads intersection into a roundabout, thanks to a $600,000 Highway Safety Improvement Program grant for which city Engineering Technician Jessica Carpenter successfully applied, Lodge said.
Building it would make for a slight shift in the Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trail that runs alongside Parsons Road, Lodge said. Plans are to include sidewalks on all four corners, despite the lack of any connecting sidewalks north of the intersection — Lodge said it’s a gap that’ll have to be filled some day.
Koebert said she’s concerned about how pedestrians will get through the roundabout, to which Lodge responded the setup for them will be largely the same as it is now.
Funding for the roundabout is use-it-or-lose-it, Lodge said after the meeting.
Designs are due no later than August.
Other road projects include rebuilding Randolph Street between Division and Oak avenues, set for 2020, Lodge said. The new road’s design won’t be much different from the current one.
Planning commissioners also heard about other big projects in the Capital Improvements Program, including Downtown Development Authority Jean Derenzy on a proposed Civic Square.
The DDA has $3 million in grants to build it but no location yet, she said. She’s hoping to make an announcement on that end by mid-2020.
The location of the Sara Hardy Farmers Market is also up for discussion, Derenzy said. She pointed to the need to work with vendors to determine whether they want to stay in the current spot, a city parking lot between Union and Cass streets.
If so, the spot could use as much as $5 million invested in it.
Derenzy said the DDA is also planning to spend $50,000 to replace dead and missing trees. She later added it’s part of a plan to completely replace the downtown’s trees over six years as sidewalks are replaced — planning commissioner Brian McGillivary said he doesn’t want to see older trees replaced with “sticks.”
West End Beach’s bathhouse is up for a long-overdue rebuild, city Parks and Recreation Superintendent Derek Melville said.
He asked commissioners if they’ve ever been inside.
“If you have, you can probably understand why we’re talking about doing something a little bit differently there,” he said, adding the park’s accessibility rates poorly as well.
Melville said the plans aren’t final, and it’ll likely take a few years to apply for and secure grants for the project. He believes the city is well positioned to leverage Brown Bridge Parks Improvement Trust Fund money for grant dollars, especially after voters reauthorized the fund November 2019.
Department of Public Services Director Frank Dituri, also on the Boardman River Restoration Project Implementation Team, said plans for the selective fish passageway set to replace Union Street Dam — known as FishPass — are going through their final review over the next six to eight weeks.
They’ll be put out for bid in late spring, and construction could start mid-summer.