Jackson Starts $2.5 Million Road Project

It's not a road fix drivers can see, but with crumbling pipes underneath the street it's one the city of Jackson needs.

"We want to address this problem because pretty soon that's going to cause a big problem downtown," said Jackson City Council member Andrew Frounfelker, who represents the 5th Ward. "That will have a bigger impact on businesses in the long-run."

The city is replacing 100-year-old water and sewer pipes running down Michigan Avenue from Mechanic to Blackstone, a three-block stretch of road. Crews will need to dig close to 18 ft below the surface of the road, so city engineer Troy White says the new systems they install will be built to last.

"We're not going to have to dig it up for a long time to replace these things because the life expectancy of these systems will be several decades," said Troy, the main engineer on this project.

It's a utility fix that's costing the city up to $2.5 million dollars. About 70 percent of the project's budget is covered by a water and sewer fund. The remaining money is coming from a street fund collected through the gas tax.

White says projects of this scale typically take three years to complete, but to minimize any disruption to businesses and residents, they're trying to speed up construction to finish by fall of next year.

"There will be periods where all three blocks downtown will be under construction simultaneously," White explained.

With construction happening on a main street, the city launched a website, Dig Downtown Jackson, to keep people updated.

"We want to make sure everybody knows what's going on every step of the way along the way so that people just don't think that we're not doing anything," Frounfelker said.

Since the street is already getting torn up the city is planning on improving the road, adding more parking and wider sidewalks. Consumers Energy will upgrade its gas and electric pipes which also run under the street.

"We're doing this for the residents of the city, for the businesses of the city and to make Jackson better for the long-run," Frounfelker added.

Crews plan on starting construction August 11, shutting down one section of Michigan Avenue between Francis and Mechanic. They will have to stop construction before winter but plan on putting down temporary pavement to re-open the road. Then in the spring they'll start up again.

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