Finding money for roads

May 30, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

Action by the state’s elected leaders and money are key solutions to improving the condition of roads in St. Joseph County and the rest of the state.

The solution was detailed Thursday by Christopher Bolt, engineer-manager of the St. Joseph County Road Commission. The Centreville-based agency staged a first-of-its-kind “road summit” that drew more than 60 people to Centreville.

Bolt said the local road commission is in a state of crisis, but without funding to supplement its $6 million annual budget, it will have to continue to do the best it can  with the money it has. Gas and vehicle registration taxes generate about $4.5 million to the department, more than two-thirds of its annual budget.

Another 1.2 million comes from a countywide millage, which is up for renewal in August. In a separate vote also in August, the commission is asking whether residents support a 2-mill increase for road maintenance and improvements.

State Sen. Bruce Caswell, who spoke during the 2 1/2-hour program at the St. Joseph County Intermediate School District, called the gas-tax formula a dinosaur.

Caswell said he supports a 1-cent increase in sales tax, which would generate $1.3 billion annually.

Bridge to be replaced

February 27, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

A detour was set up on Pulver Road last week, as crews prepare to replace the Rocky River bridge.

Located between Burlew Road and M-216 in Flowerfield Township, the bridge will be replaced this spring by Allegan County-based Milbocker and Sons. The same company will also be charged with replacing the Floating Bridge Road bridge, also spanning the Rocky River in Flowerfield Township.

The projects’ combined cost is $1.2 million. St. Joseph County Road Commission officials said the Michigan Department of Transportation’s local bridge fund will cover 95 percent of the expense.

Weather causing potholes

February 27, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

The Michigan Department of Transportation has issued a press release regarding potholes caused by sub-zero temperatures and near-record snowfall.

MDOT officials said weather conditions are leading directly to severe potholes across the state, putting further strain on pavement and the efforts MDOT crews have put forth filling potholes during the various freeze-thaw cycles.

The extreme pothole season on top of this winter’s heavy snowfall is taking its toll on the department’s maintenance budget, MDOT officials said.

The agency’s maintenance budget for this winter is $88 million, based on the five-year winter average. Due to the severe winter weather, it is expecting to exceed that budget by about $40 million.

The public is encouraged to report potholes they find on state roads to a link on the MDOT website.

Sheriff offers thanks

January 29, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

St. Joseph County Sheriff Brad Balk offered his thanks to citizens adhering to the snow emergency Tuesday, as road commission members were able to clear key roads in the area.

As a result, the travel advisory was lifted at noon Tuesday, four hours earlier than its original expiration.

Balk said the emergency is declared in situations when road crews need vehicles off the roadways so they can work both lanes simultaneously. Oncoming traffic and cars abandoned by the side of the road greatly compromise the efforts of the road commission, Balk said.

The emergency remained in effect in Cass County through the day Tuesday.

Two bridges to be replaced

December 27, 2013 by Administrator · Comments Off 

The Michigan Department of Transportation has identified two bridges in St. Joseph County that will be replaced in the coming year.

Spans over the Rocky River on Floating Bridge Road and Pulver Road, both in Flowerfield Township, will be dismantled and replaced in 2014.

The tasks were made official when members of the St. Joseph County Road Commission Board recently signed a contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Ceremony for bypass

October 21, 2013 by Administrator · Comments Off 

More than 40 people were on hand Friday to witness the dedication and ceremonial opening of the U.S. 131 Constantine bypass.

Several local residents, village, township, county and state officials joined in the ceremony at the south end of the new bridge spanning the St. Joseph River. Those in attendance witnessed a ceremony by the Constantine Free and Accepted Masons Lodge 35, as well as brief speeches by a number of dignitaries.

Though traffic on the 4.9-mile bypass won’t be on the roadway until the end of the month, Friday’s ceremonial ribbon cutting ensured the celebration took place in sunny weather. Construction on the $18 million bypass started earlier this year and follows what some area residents claim is the culmination of decades of talk regarding the bypass.

Among the speakers were Constantine village manager Mark Honeysett, village president Patricia Weiss, former State Sen. Cameron Brown, former State Rep. Rick Shafer, State Rep. Matt Lori, State Sen. Bruce Caswell and former Constantine village president Ken Oates.

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