By Catherine Ferland
Holt Journal staff reporter
Tim and Janice Mullins have lived off of Holt Road for the past 35 years. They have seen decades of construction projects on the troublesome part of Holt Road that sits in front of their home and said that they are hoping that the latest construction project will have lasting effects.
Every night after the dust has settled, they come out to see the progress of the project. They stroll around the tractors that have been turned off for the night, takes photos of the graded road and check out the construction on the Ram Trail that is happening at the same time.
“The pavement was pretty rough,” Janice Mullins said. “Every year they have to keep fixing this because it keeps sinking. It’s a swamp.”
The Delhi Charter Township is in the process of repaving the swampy portion of Holt Road, between Eifert Street and Gunn Street. The project, which started on Oct. 5, is expected to last four to six weeks and will replace about one half of a mile of damaged pavement.
“They kept every year adding another layer of asphalt,” Tim Mullins said. The swampy conditions of the road made it a common nuisance that the township continuously tried to improve with more layers of pavement. But the swamplands proved to be too much for the bumpy road.
“There was a sinkhole that had developed earlier this year and it was about four feet around and they had to fill it, but it was sinking again so it was going to be an ongoing project,” Tim Mullins said.
The Mullins said that they don’t mind the dust and the tractors, as long as it means that the road will improve.
“It’s quieter now than it usually is with the cars going by,” Janice Mullins said.
After the damaged pavement is ripped up, it will be replaced with lightweight stone and polymer grids, a plastic grid reinforcement, which will provide a cushion to help the new pavement remain stable in the swampy environment. The road will also be graded one to two feet lower to lessen the effects of the swampy conditions on the road.
But how long can these repairs be expected to last?
William Conklin, the managing director for the Ingham County Road Department, said, “Typically these types of repairs should last roughly 20 years, but it varies with future conditions including weather, water levels in the adjacent swamp, traffic loading and etcetera.”
“Holt Road has been a nightmare forever,” said C.J. Davis, the Delhi Township supervisor. The project requires about a three-mile detour for community members, but Davis is still looking forward to the improvements.
“Anytime you cut up a main artery it’s never perfect,” he said. “But people are doing pretty good and it’s almost halfway through now and within two or three weeks it will be done and it’s a huge improvement.”
The construction zone is about one mile east of the Holt School District. Davis and the township tried to address public concerns about having a construction zone so close to the school during the school year.
“The big problem with roads are you have to do them when it’s not wet,” Davis said. “So people look at road projects and go ‘why are you doing them now when they’re doing school?’ Well they’re doing them now because that’s the way the bid process runs and it opens them up to be done then when it’s theoretically driest.”
The Holt Road project coincides with the construction of the Ram Trail, a bike trail that will run adjacent to Holt Road. By having the two projects coincide, the township is saving time and money.
“If we didn’t do it this year then we would finish the Ram Trail and then next year we would rip up the Ram Trail to put the road down,” Davis said.
Conklin said that the estimated cost of the work on Holt Road is $450,000, “with funding provided by the same federal program funding the concurrent, adjacent path Holt Ram pathway project.” That federal funding comes from the Congestion Mitigation, Air Quality (CMAQ) program, “which funds alternatives to motorized transportation,” he said.
Daniel Troia, a project engineer with the Ingham County Road Department said, “The total cost for the combined path and road work will be approximately $1.45 million. Eighty percent is from CMAQ and 20 percent from the Delhi Township.”
After this project is completed, Davis said that the township is looking to add bike lanes and separate turning lanes to increase safety for the drivers and the students who walk to and from school along Holt Road. Though not every area of the road is surrounded by a swamp, other areas still need attention. Next year, another portion of the road will also be repaved.
“The rest of Holt Road from Grovenburg to Aurelius Roads in Delhi Township will be resurfaced next year as a second phase of the current project, again using additional federal road funding known as the Surface Transportation Program (STP), which is for regular road rehabilitation projects,” Conklin said.
According to Troia, the project will also include adding new traffic signals between Kahres Road and Eifert Road. The project budget will be 1.6 million, with 80 percent of those funds coming from the STP and 20 percent coming from the township. “New signals and lane configuration are designed to reduce rush hour congestion as well as provide measurable safety improvement,” he said.
Though the township is concerned about inconveniencing some residents with this project and future ones, residents like the Mullins and Megan Wheeler choose to see the benefits rather than the hindrances.
Wheeler has lived on a road just off of Holt Road for her whole life. While her house doesn’t fall in the construction zone, she drives her sister to and from the Holt High School often, requiring her to pass the area of the road under construction.
“It’s like you’re riding a wave or something, because it’s really, really bad over there,” she said. “They build a road over a swamp, so it’s kind of inevitable.”
Though she admits the detour will make it difficult to get to some of the schools, she says that she’s looking forward to the new road.