Concrete award highlights Eastpointe’s approach to road projects

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published April 5, 2019

 Eastpointe Mayor Suzanne Pixley, left, and City Engineer Steve Pangori, center, receive the Award of Excellence from Kerry Sutton, of the Michigan Concrete Association, at the City Council meeting March 26.

Eastpointe Mayor Suzanne Pixley, left, and City Engineer Steve Pangori, center, receive the Award of Excellence from Kerry Sutton, of the Michigan Concrete Association, at the City Council meeting March 26.

Photo provided by Joe Merucci

 For the fourth time in five years, Eastpointe has been recognized by the Michigan Concrete Association for its road work. This year, it was for a project on Toepfer Road, between Boulder Avenue and David Avenue.

For the fourth time in five years, Eastpointe has been recognized by the Michigan Concrete Association for its road work. This year, it was for a project on Toepfer Road, between Boulder Avenue and David Avenue.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

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EASTPOINTE — Eastpointe officials are highlighting their work to improve local roads following their receiving an award from the Michigan Concrete Association.

The Award of Excellence from the organization was given in response to an Eastpointe road project that included Toepfer Road, between Boulder Avenue and David Avenue.

“It was a total removal of the existing pavement and a replacement of the storm sewer underneath,” explained Joe Merucci, from the Eastpointe City Manager’s Office. “The pavement was in bad condition. In 2017, we redid Gratiot (Avenue) to Boulder. This portion of Toepfer was a continuation of that. We’re hoping to continue the work on Toepfer all the way to Kelly Road this year.”

The Michigan Concrete Association works to promote and support the use of concrete across the state of Michigan. Kerry Sutton, the director of engineering for southeast Michigan at the Michigan Concrete Association, said the project was recognized for a number of reasons.

“The Toepfer Road reconstruction project was complex in that it included not only new pavement, but also replacing the entire drainage system and significant underground work,” Sutton said in an email. “Coordinating with the utility companies, the residents and the local elementary school so that traffic could be maintained at all times was a significant challenge for the contractor and the city. (Contractors Florence Cement Co.) also had to deal with avoiding a newly replaced natural gas line that was located in the path of the paver track line on one side of the road. This added to the complexity.”

Sutton added that many aspects of the project are considered when choosing the winners of these awards.

“The MCA Awards Program is conducted annually to determine the best concrete projects designed and constructed or restored during the past year across the state of Michigan,” Sutton said in the email. “It is intended to encourage high quality workmanship in every concrete project and recognizes all members of the project team, including the contractor, project owner, engineer and major suppliers. MCA members, public agencies and consulting engineers are invited to nominate candidate projects constructed in the state of Michigan for a variety of project categories. Projects are judged on the basis of innovation, quality, speed of construction and complexity.”

“The awards are submitted by the contractor: Florence Cement out of Shelby Township,” added Merucci. “This award is given to honor the contractors too.”

Road projects in Eastpointe are chosen for work based on a scale of road quality between 1 and 10. The Toepfer project was selected because it had progressed too far down that scale to wait any longer for work.

City officials said this award is significant because the city has received it several times in recent years, and officials see it as a sign that their roadwork is on the right track.

“This is the fourth time we’ve won the award,” said Merucci. “It’s proof we are making roads a priority. We can only really focus on one project a year due to the budget, so we try to make sure they’re done well.”

Officials from many municipalities say that although they are doing the best they can with what they have in regard to roads, they cannot make bigger strides until the way state funding is distributed gets adjusted.

“Funding from the state is determined by a formula laid out in a state measure from 1951, and it is very archaic,” said Mayor Suzanne Pixley. “We have a need for a new way to decide how these funds are distributed to each individual community. Cities with bigger roads need more support than they’re getting, because their roads take more wear and tear faster, and that’s not reflected in that formula.”

Despite the difficulties in procuring funding for roads, Eastpointe officials say they are committed to fixing the city’s roads as quickly and as well as possible with as little cost to residents as possible.

“Eighty percent of the $1,550,000 cost of this project came from federal money,” said Merucci. “The city of Eastpointe spends its money wisely to maintain quality roads, and we work hard to secure funding from outside the city to do projects like this.”

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