$2 million allocated to repair potholes on M-59

By: Jeremy Selweski | C&G Newspapers | Published January 8, 2014

MACOMB COUNTY — A state grant will be used later this year to patch up a long stretch of M-59 that runs through most of Macomb County.

State Rep. Anthony Forlini, R-Harrison Township, announced the $2 million project on Dec. 19. The funds will be allocated for pitted concrete repairs on the heavily trafficked section of the road from M-53 to I-94. Forlini indicated that he lobbied on behalf of the project in response to requests from his constituents.

“People are always telling me how terrible it is driving on Hall Road these days because of all the potholes,” he said. “So when I was asked what road projects I wanted to prioritize in 2014, I immediately thought of Hall Road.”

The funds for M-59 will come from the state’s new Roads and Risks Reserve (RRR) Fund, a one-time legislative allocation to improve roads and bridges throughout the state. RRR is slated to cover 103 local transportation projects this year, ranging from minor highway repairs to total road resurfacings to bridge replacements.

As part of the state’s 2014 fiscal year budget, the Legislature created the special fund using $230 million in existing state revenue. Half of the funds were made available for appropriation on Oct. 1, while the other half will be available on Feb. 1 if it has not been dedicated for other purposes. The RRR revenue was allocated in addition to $121.3 million from the state’s general fund, which will be used to fully match a series of federal transportation grants.

According to Steve Minton, senior project manager at the Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Macomb-St. Clair Transportation Service Center in Chesterfield Township, the $2 million M-59 project will primarily involve patching up the largest potholes along the thoroughfare.

“That’s a very long stretch of road, so $2 million will not go very far toward making all the repairs that it needs,” he explained. “Some pieces of it are in a lot better shape than others. Right now, we’re trying to figure which pieces are most in need of repair and focus on those.”

Minton noted that the section of M-59 from Hayes Road to a little bit east of Romeo Plank Road is in the worst shape and could merit the greatest attention. However, he added that because MDOT is already slated to perform a complete reconstruction of M-59 from M-53 to Hayes in 2017, the department will most likely limit this year’s repair work to the section between Hayes and I-94.

The project should be completed sometime this year, most likely in the late spring or early summer, but Minton indicated that MDOT has no exact timeline in place yet.

“We’re going to try to tie it in with some other patchwork that we already have scheduled on M-59 from Ryan (Road) to Van Dyke (Avenue),” he said. “We will probably relegate these repairs to weekend work in order to minimize any disturbance or inconvenience to drivers.”

Other Macomb County projects to be paid for with RRR funding in 2014 include $1.655 million for Kelly Road between Nine Mile Road and Toepfer Drive in Eastpointe, $1 million for M-19 at Gratiot Avenue in Richmond Township, $864,000 for 19 1/2 Mile Road from Merrill Road to Utica Road in Sterling Heights, and $800,000 for 25 Mile Road between Van Dyke and Schoenherr Road in Shelby Township.

Forlini believes that road improvements should be a high priority for the state going forward. He pointed out that a recent financial report indicated that this year’s budget will have an estimated surplus of about $1.3 billion, which means that there should be plenty of funding to go around.

“I want to see all of that revenue go toward our roads, if possible,” he said. “If the money is there, then we should put it toward something that helps everyone, rather than something that only helps certain groups of people.”

Another road project that Forlini would like to see come to fruition is the reconstruction of 16 Mile Road from Groesbeck Highway to Lake St. Clair Metropark. The legislator feels that if Michigan lawmakers truly want to invest in local transportation, they must not put off these types of projects any longer than necessary.

“That’s why I made the pitch for Hall Road in the first place,” he said. “We’ve got an aging road system here in Macomb County, so a lot of our infrastructure is going to need to be replaced soon, whether we like it or not.”