Belding City Council eyes road repairs

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 11:23 am on Wednesday, January 16, 2013

BELDING — Next year is shaping up to be a busy year for road repair in Belding.

During Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting at the Pere Marquette Depot, council members voted unanimously to begin accepting proposals for engineering work on two separate road construction projects within the city.

The first of the two projects is the removal and replacement of the Main Street Bridge over the Flat River.

According to Interim City Manager Sam Andres, the existing 140-foot three-span structure was built in 1968 with an average daily traffic of 3,205 vehicles per day.

The bridge is in disrepair and in May 2011 the bridge developed a 3-foot-by-2-foot hole along the beam on the north side of the structure.

The city applied for an emergency application in 2011 for a grant through the Michigan Department of Transportation. The grant was approved last year and will almost entirely fund the multi-million dollar project.

Though funding has been approved for the 2015 fiscal year, city officials would like to move the project to the 2014 fiscal year and proceed with the design and approvals for construction.

Cited as one of several streets in Belding in need of repair, Councilman Mike Scheid said, “I just want it fixed.”

Andres said the construction project will be financed with a combination of federal and Michigan Local Bridge Program funds and local funds. Participation in engineering costs is not included and will be the responsibility of the city.

The four engineering firms submitting proposals are Flies and Vandenbrink, Scott Civil Engineering Co., Williams & Works and Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber Inc. The firms have until 4 p.m. Feb. 13 to submit proposals.

A city bridge committee will review design criteria, including steps to attempt to make the bridge more pedestrian and cycling friendly with the potential addition of the Fred Meijer Flat River Valley Rail Trail, the final 15.88 mile phase of the 125-mile Fred Meijer Mid-Michigan Trail corridor.

Those criteria include a desired 10-foot-wide sidewalk path on at least the south side of the bridge, separated from traffic. The same is desired for the north side, however Director of Public Works Ernie Thomas  said complications with a water main may prove to be problematic.

The second street project is the reconstruction of Crawford Street from High Street to Ellis Street and the reconstruction of Washington and Hall streets.

The stretch of Washington Street begins at Hanover Street and ends at Hall Street. The stretch of Hall Street begins at Washington Street and ends at Center Street.

Reconstruction of Crawford Street will include pavement removal, storm sewer work, roadway grading, surface restoration and additional work.

The road and drainage improvements will be funded with a MDOT Small Urban grant of $375,000 and $93,750 in matching local funds. The sanitary sewer and water main improvements will be funded with local funds estimated at $250,000.

Proposals for those two separate projects are also due by 4 p.m. Feb. 13 from the same firms.

Reconstruction on Washington and Hall streets will feature near identical work and will also be paid for with a MDOT Small Urban grant of $375,000 and $93,750 in matching local funds.

The sanitary sewer and water main improvements will be funded with local funds estimated at $325,000.

Both motions were approved by City Council with none opposed. Councilwoman Andrea Belding was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

In other matters, council members unanimously approved a motion to accept a 2013 Michigan Department of Natural Resources Volunteer Fire Assistance grant. The grant is a 50-50 match given to fire departments in communities with less than 10,000 in population.

The grant will provide half of $9,900 to aid the Belding Fire Department in purchasing approximately 2,800 feet of hoses, hose nozzles, forestry fire fighting equipment and a foam eductor.

Mayor Ron Gunderson closed Tuesday’s meeting by offering his own personal comments on the Jan. 5 shooting incident that involved a Belding police officer and a Michigan State Police officer.

“I feel the need to express the city’s and especially (my own) concerns about what has happened here recently with the involvement of one of our officers and the state police,” he said. “I think it has set heavy on everyone’s heart here in town … it’s hard sometimes to see a community divided and it takes something like this to bring a community together. I think it made everybody take a second look at what is going on around them. I would just really hope that as a community, we can all move on past this and learn from this.”

According to Andres, the police car involved in the incident sustained $5,000 in damages and is being repaired. The car is expected to be back in commission within the week.

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