Published October 30, 2013
Road Paving Committee maps out future construction projects
By Jeremy Selweski jSelweski@candgnews.com
MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The township will continue its mission of surfacing its few remaining unpaved roads and widening major thoroughfares from two lanes to five over the next few years.
On Oct. 21, the Macomb Township Road Paving Committee — which consists of Clerk Michael Koehs, Treasurer Karen Goodhue and Trustee Nancy Nevers — held its second meeting of the month to discuss planned construction projects for 2014 and beyond. More than 20 township residents were in attendance for the meeting to voice their opinions about which areas of the community are most in need of road improvements.
Koehs noted that there were three main advocacy groups that came before the committee, all of which were requesting to have roads in their neighborhood paved as soon as possible. These included 24 Mile Road between Romeo Plank and Foss roads, Fairchild Road north of 24 Mile, and Luchtman Road north of 25 Mile Road.
“There aren’t a lot of unpaved roads left in Macomb Township,” Koehs said, “but tackling those roads is our biggest priority right now. Public input is a huge consideration for us on this issue, so getting that kind of feedback from residents was really valuable. But we also have to make sure that every project meets the requirements of the (Macomb County Department of Roads), then find the necessary funding to do it and create a schedule.”
Bob Hoepfner, director of the county Roads Department, was also in attendance on Oct. 21. He was pleased to report that the proposed 24 Mile paving project will be getting underway next year: news that was cause for celebration among the residents at the meeting.
“We seemed to make those people very happy,” Hoepfner said.
Other projects on the horizon include widening Hayes Road from 21 Mile Road to 23 Mile Road in 2014, widening North Avenue from Hall Road to 21 Mile in 2015, widening 23 Mile from North Avenue to Fairchild in 2016, and widening Romeo Plank from 21 1/2 Mile Road to 22 1/2 Mile Road in 2017.
Koehs added that while the Luchtman project is a possibility for 2015, the Fairchild proposal would have to be added to the township’s “wish list” for the time being. That list also includes hopes of resurfacing 21 Mile between Romeo Plank and Garfield roads, as well as Fairchild between Hall Road and 21 Mile. Township officials also would like to see Broughton Road extended southbound to 23 Mile, where it would connect with Heydenreich Road.
According to Koehs, the primary reason the township has so many road projects slated for the next few years is the changing traffic patterns — and the greatly increased traffic — caused by the tremendous growth in the community’s population. While Macomb Township’s population 40 years ago was only about 8,000, the most current data shows that it has climbed to greater than 84,000.
This population explosion also means that there are a small number of longtime residents who would prefer that their roads remain untouched.
“Believe it or not, some people tell us, ‘Don’t pave my road,’” Koehs said. “They like the rural aspect of living in Macomb Township, so they don’t want the extra traffic and noise of a paved road. As new subdivisions are built, people tend to use dirt roads to cut through and avoid traffic, but that also causes those roads to get torn up very quickly. Then, we have to decide if we should just try to repair them or if it’s worth paving them.”
Still, these residents appear to be firmly in the minority.
As Hoepfner put it, “Most people want to have their roads paved because they’re tired of all the dust flying around and having to drive on that rough surface.”
Koehs said that the Road Paving Committee plans to present a formal report to the Macomb Township Board of Trustees next February. The board will then be able to use the information in the report while preparing the township’s 2014-15 budget, as well as for mapping out the years ahead.
“We know there are some other projects that the township would like to see going forward, but they are not yet part of our program,” Hoepfner said. “We will work with them as best we can to get those projects done. They will definitely happen at some point, but it may take some time.”