Ingham looks to improve roads, fix potholes before harsh winter

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With the winter season approaching, Ingham County drivers will again find themselves matched up with dangerous roads. That’s where the county’s road department comes in.

Ingham County’s roads may not be in precarious shape , but that doesn’t prevent icy temperatures and precipitation from creating potholes that can damage any vehicle.

The Ingham County Road Department has three divisions, most notably its operations department. The department is responsible for maintenance of all county roads, as well as snow and ice removal, roadside maintenance and resurfacing.

Across the county, there have been numerous small projects, but few major road repair plans in 2017. A 2019 project to reconstruct Okemos Road from Shawnee Trail to Clinton Street has been budgeted at $3.2 million, according to the county’s Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP.

“We’re always looking to fix problem areas around the county,” said Brett Campbell, who serves as the road department’s district supervisor. “It comes down mainly to resources as to whether or not we can get work done.”

Residents around the county have had mixed reactions to  how the constant cycle of road repairs affects them.

“It’s not ideal, but I understand they have a job to do,” said Jacob Simmons, an MSU student living in East Lansing. “As long as I’ve been driving, it’s just been a fact of life. If we want better roads, we have to let the government do their jobs. If they didn’t get repaired, it’d cost people a lot of money in terms of damage to their cars.”

In recent weeks, road work along Grand River Avenue in East Lansing has caused lane closures and a couple detours for traffic across Michigan State’s campus.

Janet Allmen of Mason has seen construction near her home extend her commute to work by a couple minutes.

“It does create some headaches for me during the week,” Allman said. “On days when the crews are working, the traffic can swell up when usually I’d be able to just drive on by.”

The county services division, where the road department is located, makes up about 28 percent of Ingham’s budget in 2017.

“Roads are a huge deal in Michigan, and everyone knows we have bad roads,” said Mark Danielson of Webberville. “If the job needs to get done, it needs to get done. If there are potholes all over the place in the winter, no one will feel safe behind the wheel.”