September 30, 2014

Road projects on Melita, State roads, expected to be completed next month

Lincoln Road work starting in early October

Tim Barnum
Crew members with John Henry Excavating work to install a bridge deck on State Road over Pine River.
Tim Barnum
Work on Melita Road includes a new shoulder, new guardrail and the installation of catch basins to capture runoff and prevent erosion.
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ARENAC COUNTY — Drivers will have to deal with detours around road work on Melita Road and State Road at least until mid-October, according to Arenac County Road Commissioner Superintendent Blair Dyer.

The project on Melita Road creates a detour for motorists who may be taking the road south to Sterling or north toward Maple Ridge. Dyer said the project is being done by Ace-Saginaw Paving. He said the project entails the replacement of a guardrail on the curves just south of White’s Canoe Livery, and the installation of paved shoulders and catch basins to capture runoff and prevent erosion.

“That’s something that has needed to be done for years,” he said. “We’ve always had trouble with the shoulder washing away and making ruts along the road, and that guardrail’s pretty rough.”

Dyer said the Melita Road project started right after Labor Day and is expected to be finished around the middle of October. Its total cost is about $220,000, with $190,000 being funded with a federal safety grant.

The detour, which directs southbound drivers to head east on Main Street Road and then south on Grove Road, is not easy to deal with, Dyer said.

“There’s not a really good detour route out there,” he said. “It’s the same for the Pine River Bridge they’re working on.”

Work on the Pine River bridge, which is on State Road, began in early July, Dyer said.

“They’re putting on a new deck and putting a new bridge up there,” he said.

According to Dyer, grant funds from the state of Michigan’s Critical Bridge Fund are paying all but 5 percent of the project’s total cost, which is $540,000. John Henry Excavating, of East Tawas, is providing the labor on the Pine River bridge project.

Dyer said the State Road work should be completed in late October.

Denice Migut, transportation director at Standish-Sterling Community Schools, said the road projects, especially the one on Melita Road, are taking their toll on the district’s transportation budget.

“The Melita Road bridge — I have three buses detouring that,” she said. “So, roughly, about $200 a day it’s costing us to run that detour.”

Migut added drivers are paid by the mile, and the detour adds an additional 12 miles to each route, and the additional mileage also means additional fuel.

Students who ride the bus to and from school have had to change their daily routines due to the projects, Migut said.

“Now those buses are picking students up roughly 20 or 35 minutes earlier than what they were previously scheduled,” she said.

Despite the adjustments made by students, Migut said she is confident when the project is finished, the readjustment will not cause an issue for bus riders.

“I don’t think that will be a problem,” she said. “Those three drivers will immediately notify their students, and it will probably be bad if it was an earlier time, but being that it will be a later time once this is finished, I don’t think there’ll be a problem with that.”

While two projects are expected to be completed in October, a third project on Lincoln Road in the village of Sterling and Lincoln Township will begin Oct. 1.

“We’re going to pulverize that, put new culverts in and repave it,” Dyer said.

The Lincoln Road project is projected to cost about $580,000 altogether, with the village of Sterling and road commission each paying 20 percent of the cost. Federal gas tax monies granted to the county will cover the rest of the project cost, Dyer said.

Like the State and Melita road projects, drivers will have to deal with a detour, according to Dyer. He said it would likely direct people to take I-75 to Sterling Road or M-61, depending on the direction they are traveling.

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