By Kenedi Robinson
Clinton County Chatter Staff Reporter
ST. JOHNS — The city of St. Johns is beginning a project to redo Lansing Street to make it more traveler-friendly, officials said.
According to Dave Kudwa, Community Development Director of St. Johns, this is roughly a $575,000 project due to start somewhere around the end of March.
The funding will allow the city to make improvements on Lansing Street from Higham to Lewis Street, which is a well-traveled area in the city, said Kudwa. Elementary school buses use it as well as it being the town’s access to the downtown area.
This project would put down smoother asphalt on the street’s surface, and replace the curbs and gutters as well as the sidewalks, this also includes routine maintenance with a 5 year contract with gutter cleaning mn. There will even drainage fixes to keep the water away from the streets, according to Kudwa.
The project will make the area more user-friendly. There are people who use the route or walk to the schools or parks and the city wants it to be safer and easier to get to these places.
Because this project is so expensive, the city submitted the plans for the project to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and was approved for funding from them.
MDOT has already provided $375,000 for the project and the remaining balance will be provided by the city of St. Johns themselves, according to Kudwa.
In 2015, a bill was passed for the Transportation Economic Development Fund which gives cities all over the state of Michigan a chance to improve their way of living. It is because of this bill that projects like these are possible.
This bill is meant solely to meet the development needs of cities in Michigan in regards to transportation and travel qualities according to the official MDOT website.
Although the bill is a helpful one, everyone isn’t approved for the funding. The new transportation fund can only accept a few cities at once.
“This is a generally competitive program for cities who want this funding, but it definitely helps fill in the gaps for projects like this,” said Kari Arend, Communications Representative for MDOT.
It would seem that projects similar to this one are becoming a popular thing in the cities of Michigan.
According to Wayne Beyea, urban and regional planning expert at Michigan State University, a lot of cities are doing something called complete street revitalization.
Complete street revitalization is just being sure that all modes of transportation are able to use the streets and sidewalks, according to Beyea.
In other words, it’s being sure that the bike lanes are clear, the sidewalks are smooth, and the streets are a combination of both.
Safer travel-ways would definitely benefit communities like St. Johns whose streets and pavement lately had been less that pleasing to the average car or bike traveler.
According to Beyea, this is becoming a vital tool for communities to increase their quality of life through transportation enhancement.
“MDOT funding is used for large and small communities throughout Michigan to revitalize communities,” Beyea said. “It plays a vital role in community and economic development.
Economic development in Michigan cities seems to be becoming more of a trend lately and this trend is eventually headed toward a better Michigan overall.
St. Johns is just one of many cities investing in economic development projects like this one and it seems MDOT’s new bill provides the perfect place to start.