by BETH ALTENA Members of the Rockford City Council were surprised to learn during their monthly meeting on Monday, June 13 that the Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) has pushed back the timeline on expanding Ten Mile Road from three lanes to five. Because of restrictions on bidding portions of the project mandated by federal regulations, the project will not be started until Labor Day this year, much later than the original projected start date of June this year. City Manager Michael Young said he had talked to the KCRC Director of Engineering Wayne Harroll earlier in the day and was told portions of the project, such as the shoulder work, grading and setting signals, may be done this year with the bulk of the actual road work beginning in April 2012. The project originally was slated to begin in June and be completed by September this year.
Kent County Road Commission
Road commission hears from public, board to meet by BETH ALTENA People spoke up on both sides of the proposed widening of Ten Mile Road from the Rockford Meijer driveway to Childsdale. Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) Director of Engineering Wayne Harroll met with residents Thursday, March 31 at Resurrection Life Church. The meeting was the second-to-last chance for the public to offer their input before the construction begins in July. Harroll said the KCRC had three choices regarding Ten Mile Road up to the Rockford City entrance. “We could do nothing, make it a three-lane or a five-lane,” Harroll said to residents. Harroll said the road already exceeds the number of vehicles daily for a three-lane road (15,000 per day or fewer for a safe three-lane) and the commission believes expanding to a five-lane road with two paved bike/pedestrian paths will accommodate traffic through the next 20 years. In 2010 there were 22,225 vehicles per day on the section of road under consideration. “In 2030 we estimate 33,025 vehicles per day,” Harroll said. From January 1, 2005 to December 2009 there were 159 accidents, 55 of which were rear-end. This indicates a need for a left-turn lane, Harroll said. Resident input on the plan that came from a July 13, 2010 meeting led the KCRC to alter the original plan by adding a four-foot paved pedestrian/bike path on each side of the road and not having Ten Mile completely closed during parts of the construction. Responding to feedback, a traffic signal at Childsdale was also added. The home at 273 Ten Mile qualifies for historic preservation, although it is not currently designated historic, according to the State Historic Preservation Office revue, and Harroll said he had to guarantee the mature trees in that home’s yard would not be removed as part of this project. He said environmental assessments were performed to make sure a minimum of wetlands was affected and that no endangered or threatened species would be affected by the project. Harroll said a sound study showed that 19 of 21 sites studied did exceed the recommended sound limit of 66 decibels, but the cost of mitigation, at $40,640 per residence, was not reasonable or feasible. Harroll said the problem with containing sound […]
Drivers over Ten Mile Road shared the bridge at the Rogue River with Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) crews Thursday, Sept. 16 to Thursday, Sept. 23 as the bridge received an evaluation and some patching. An unusual piece of equipment may have caught the eye of passersby as KCRC staff were lowered under the bridge for a closer look and to apply the patching material. Wayne Harroll, of the KCRC, said the vehicle on the bridge for those days is known in the industry as a “snooper truck” but is actually a Truck Mounted Bridge Inspection Unit that Kent County leases as need requires. The vehicle came to Rockford after the KCRC used it to do some repairs at the Knapp Street and Jupiter Avenue bridges over the Grand River. “Our bridges are in decent shape, although all of them need maintenance,” said Harroll. As news reports decry the terrible state of roads and bridges across Michigan and much of the United States, Kent County’s are an exception. According to Harroll, aggressive campaigns in the county in the 1970s and ‘80s resulted in the replacement of dilapidated bridge components. “A lot of our old steel truss bridges were replaced,” Harroll said. He noted that the only remaining bridge that is not up to legal weight is the Fallasburg covered bridge in Lowell. Instead of the normal eight- or nine-ton capacity, the Fallasburg bridge has a posted limit of three tons. The 1800s-era Fallasburg bridge was left because of its historic nature, one of only three covered bridges in Michigan, and because a newer bridge is located just up the river. “If it was a safety issue, we’d replace it,” Harroll said. “The Historic Society would not like us to replace that bridge.”
‘It is difficult to validate their accusations’ —Supervisor Meek Two different investigations of claims of threats and harassment are concluded in Plainfield Township. An MDOT investigation regarding the Kent County Road Commission’s (KCRC) actions in securing agreements to grade Belmont Road property frontage found there were no threats to residents in order to receive permission for grading. An extensive investigation initiated and paid for by Supervisor George Meek and trustees Charles Weldon and Vic Matthews—threatened with recall—also found no basis for the claims of threats made by residents. A small group of verbal and accusing residents have been condemning the board members, as well as the KCRC staff, of disregarding the will of voters, breaking the law, and complaining of threats to health and home. Several of those claiming wrongdoing by KCRC and the board refused to talk to Gene Debbaudt, a former FBI investigator who was hired to look into the accusations. “While we respect their right not to talk to our investigators, without the information they claim to possess, it is difficult to validate their accusations,” said Supervisor George Meek following the board’s Monday, September 20 meeting. “We are satisfied that the issue of threats and intimidation has been meticulously and extensively investigated, not only by Mr. Debbaudt and his associates, but also by MDOT. We now consider this matter closed,” said Meek.
by Cliff and Nancy Hill Tuesday evening, July 13, the Kent County Road Commission held a public meeting on proposed improvements to 10 Mile Road between the County landfill entrance east to Childsdale Avenue. The purpose of the meeting was to provide information on proposed improvements along this portion of County roadway. In 2011 the heavily trafficked and oftentimes-dangerous 1.4-mile stretch of road will be widened to five lanes, two lanes in each direction and a center turn lane, under a plan proposed by the Kent County Road Commission. The improvements will be very similar to those that in recent years were undertaken by the County on Northland Drive between Twelve Mile and Fourteen Mile Roads (M-57). Compared to this year’s Road Commission held meetings in Plainfield Township on proposed improvements to Belmont Road, this initial Ten Mile Road improvement meeting was civil. Readers may recall that a contentious group of Plainfield Township residents doomed the Belmont Road project to failure. The meeting was held in the spacious sanctuary of Resurrection Life Church, conveniently located adjacent to the stretch of roadway much in need of necessary improvements to handle ever-increasing daily volumes of traffic. An appreciative murmur rippled through the 100+ area residents in attendance when Wayne Harrall, Director of Engineering for the County Road Commission announced that, “A stoplight traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of Wolven Avenue and Ten Mile Road.” Acknowledging the now difficult and oftentimes dangerous task of turning east or westbound off of Wolven onto Ten Mile Rd. Harrall also added, “The sightlines to the east would be greatly improved by raising the grade of a deep dip in the roadway by five to six feet thus eliminating a dangerous blind spot.” It was also noted that, at Highlander, the five new lanes would begin to transition and taper into the existing three-lane configuration of Ten Mile Road at Childsdale Avenue. No businesses will be affected because none front the particular corridor of road. Needing access, however, during construction is Resurrection Life Church and numerous driveways of private residences. Those concerned about having access to their homes or attending Resurrection Life Church services or its day care center were reassured that they would have free access during the […]