City already planning for 2023 road repairs

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 9, 2022

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GROSSE POINTE CITY — Winter might be just around the corner, but Grosse Pointe City leaders are already making plans for roadwork in 2023.

Although work won’t start until next spring, the Grosse Pointe City Council voted unanimously in favor of 2023 road projects during a meeting Sept. 19. City Manager Peter Dame said that, although the council typically votes on the road project list in December, the city moved up the council vote this year to get bids out at the start of 2023, hoping to be among the first municipalities to do so and thus perhaps obtain better bid prices.

Based on the latest annual road condition study, the 2023 road improvement plan calls for work on Neff Road between Charlevoix and St. Paul avenues. In addition, one block of Cranford Lane that was held over from this year because of poor bids will be done next year. Work will take place in conjunction with water main replacements on these streets, Dame said.

The City uses a six-year rolling road improvement program to determine which streets will be repaired from year to year. The schedule is based on a number of factors, including road conditions and costs for repair.

“We’ve seen some tremendous increases in costs” for roadwork over the last couple of years, explained City Engineer Stephen Pangori, of Anderson, Eckstein and Westrick Inc. “We increased estimated costs by 20% in the new report.”

As a result, Pangori said this year’s report moves a section of Neff and two sections of Notre Dame Street to 2028 “to get costs in line with the (road improvement) millage (estimates).”

The increase in roadwork costs is due to higher costs for materials and labor, as well as demand that’s outstripping the availability of both of the aforementioned. Pangori said getting bids out very early in 2023 gives the City a better chance of getting on contractors’ schedules before those fill up for the construction season.

City Councilman Christopher Walsh praised the road program and efforts to review conditions annually.

“This has been a very orderly process in which we’ve been able to tell the residents we’re on top of the road conditions,” Walsh said. “These are the prioritized roads for now, and next year, there will be an updated (list).”

The City has 1.745 miles of minor arterial streets — Kercheval Avenue and Cadieux Road — plus 1.838 miles in major collector streets — Waterloo and St. Clair avenues; these types of streets are eligible for federal aid, according to an AEW report. But the majority of roads in the City are classified as local streets, and these account for 14.84 miles, the report states. Streets are evaluated on a scale of one to 10 using the PASER rating system, with good meaning a rating of eight to 10, fair meaning a rating of five to seven, and poor meaning a rating of one to four. The City’s local streets had an average PASER rating of 6.137 in 2022 — down from the average of 6.229 in 2021.

“I commend the City Council and City administration,” Pangori said. “You’re one of the only cities to do a PASER rating every year, which gives you a good handle on the condition of your (roads).”

The percentage of roads classified as being in good condition was 34% in 2022, up from 26% in 2021, while roads classified as in fair condition was 44% in 2022 compared to 46% in 2021. Roads in poor condition fell from 27% in 2021 to 21% in 2022. The city’s latest road report notes that these ratings were arrived at prior to work on Fisher Road between Kercheval and Mack avenues, which was undertaken this fall.

“You are making good progress,” said Pangori, noting that roads classified as being in good condition have been on the rise since the road improvement program launched in 2014.

Walsh also pointed out that the number of roads in poor condition has decreased.

Dame said the City was in the ninth year of a 15-year road improvement program funded by a 2.5 mill, voter-approved road improvement levy. He said the road millage will generate $966,000 for the 2022-23 fiscal year and is projected to generate more money in the 2023-24 fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2023.