County Road Commissions set to tackle road repairs

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

Although road work funding has improved in recent years for both Antrim and Kalkaska counties, many roads are continuing to decline, such as this regional thoroughfare.


REGION – After another cold and snowy winter that was, as usual, hard on the region's roads, area road commissioners are once again attempting to tackle a mountain of work needed on thoroughfares throughout Antrim and Kalkaska counties with an anthill of money.

But it is getting better, albeit slowly. 

"Thanks to the increase in gas taxes and vehicle registrations a few years ago, we are now beginning to see an increase in our Michigan Transportation Fund allocations, but it's slow, and not keeping up with the continued decline of the roads in Antrim County," said Antrim County Road Commission Engineer/Manager Burt Thompson last week.

Antrim County will see allocations of $5.7 million this year, as compared to $3.6 million in 2016.

"That increase will allow us to reconstruct Kidder Road in Echo Township from M-66 to Vance Road, and Cherry Avenue in Milton Township from the Torch River bridge to Hickin Road, both of which are primary roads in Antrim County," Thompson said.

With changes in the cost-sharing formula implemented last year, a long list of township roads will be reconstructed or repaired in 13 of the county's townships. Much of that work will take place in Torch Lake Township, as well as Milton Township.

Helena and Kearney townships are the only two that won't see any road construction at all this year.

"C-38, also known as the Mancelona Road, in Mancelona Township, which a lot of people have talked to us about, is slated to be re-surfaced next year from the Mancelona village line to Bocock," said Thompson. "We'll go all the way to the county line in 2022, using federal funding, but this year we just have to keep patching and filling holes."

No immediate reconstruction or repair plans are in place for either County Road 620 in Kearney and Chestonia Township or the eastern portion of Old State Road in Echo Township, both of which  have generated complaints from drivers in recent years.

As the Antrim County Road Commission has done for many years, much of the work slated for 2019 will be done by independent contractors.

"We don't do any paving anymore," said Thompson. "We contract all of that out to commercial pavers like Rieth-Riley now."

Currently the secretary/treasurer of the Michigan County Roads Association, Thompson said he hadn't heard anything recently about Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's proposal for a sizable increase to Michigan's gas tax.

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