OTISCO TOWNSHIP — Starting Monday, the Ionia County Road Commission will begin safety improvements on Whites Bridge Road from M-44 south to 4 Mile Road and Button Road from Montcalm Avenue east to the Flat River.
According to Ionia County Road Commission Engineering Director Paul Spitzley, the project was originally submitted for Federal Safety Hazard Elimination Funding through the Michigan Department of Transportation in March 2011 and was awarded in January 2012 for the 2013 construction year.
Construction will include the reconstruction of portions of the road, paving of gravel shoulders, tree removal and clearing, guardrail upgrading and paving intersection approaches.
“We’re removing some roadside objects that are considered too dangerously close to the road,” Spitzley said.
Spitzley said motorists will notice dramatic changes to both roads in areas where the former railroad crossings were located.
“The curve on Whites Bridge Road just south of Smyrna, we’re eliminating that curve,” he said. “The bump on Button Road east of Smyrna where the railroad used to cross will be gone as well.”
Ionia County Road Commission Engineering Technician Tom Morgan said traffic will mostly be controlled with daytime lane closures and traffic regulators; however, Button Road between Whites Bridge Road and Dumon Road will be closed to traffic for several weeks in order to remove the old railroad crossing.
“During this closure traffic will be detoured north on Whites Bridge Road to east on M-44 and to south on Dumon Road,” Morgan said. “Traffic will be delayed due to construction and an alternate route may be sought if your travel is time sensitive.”
Construction will begin Monday with tree removal, clearing and trimming. Completion is anticipated to be on or before Oct. 18.
Spitzley said he understands the frustration that may be generated from motorists who will see road construction on the two roads while the Whites Covered Bridge, which was burned down by arson, and bridge over 4 Mile Road, which was washed away this spring, remain impassible.
“We understand that this is an added inconvenience considering 4 Mile Road and Whites Bridge Road are still closed, however, this project was scheduled prior to other unforeseen events,” Spitzley said. “This is a different source of funding and was already set it place prior to the two crossings becoming impassible. The closure of Button Road will allow for the safest and quickest construction possible through the project.”
Spitzley said Whites Bridge Road will see the most significant construction because funding was set aside by the Otisco Township Board for portions of the construction project.
According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, the estimated cost of the project on Whites Bridge Road is $382,600. The cost is covered by federal monies of $344,340, federal High Risk Rural Roads monies of $19,130, and $38,260 in local funds.
The estimated cost of the project on Button Road is $335,600. The cost is covered by federal monies of $302,040, federal High Risk Rural Roads monies of $16,1780, and $33,560 in local funds.
Spitzley added that the Federal Safety Hazard Elimination Funding is being used to improve the two former railroad crossing areas.