By Cydni Robinson
Clinton County Chatter Staff Reporter
ST. JOHNS — The city of St. Johns has about 40 miles of roads that have not been tended to in about 30 to 40 years, city officials said. They were not the best for traveling but as of 2013 the city decided to change it all.
Currently the city of St. Johns is in the third year of a four-year assessment to fix its streets. The millage generates about $760,000 a year for four years. The total amount for the project is roughly $3,040,000 over that four-year period. The taxpayers are estimated to pay an average of $200-$300 per year for this project, says Community Development Director/Deputy City Manager Dave Kudwa.
In 2013 the City Commission set out for a vote to see if tax payers would approve a millage to fund street improvements. The vote turned out two to one as a result and the city set out to get things going, said Kudwa.
“I feel the program has worked out very favorably for the city residents. The feedback we have received has been outstanding. The streets and infrastructure have never looked better,” said the mayor of St. Johns, Dana Beaman, in an email.
Stephanie Clayton, a worker in Nicole’s Salon and Day Spa located in St. Johns, said that she doesn’t think the roads are that bad compared to the roads in Lansing.
“But, there are certain roads that need to be fixed in St. Johns, so the project is definitely beneficial,” said Clayton.
According to Kudwa the City Commission wanted to make sure they did something in every part of the town. No matter the neighborhoods, weather it was commercial, residential or what the use was.
“I think a lot of times when there’s street projects or infrastructure kind of projects that are done, its kind of localized to one small area of the city and only people that travel on that specific street benefit from it,” said Kudwa.
Some major streets that have been finished are:
• Cass Street (Between Wittemore Street and Scott Road)
• Gibbs Street (Between Morton Street and Traver Street)
• Ottawa Street (Between Sturgis Street and Railroad Street)
“I feel this project is turning out great. It seems a couple of years ago it was difficult to find a street in town that didn’t have pot holes and in need of repair. After of couple of years into this project it’s challenging to find streets that are in disrepair,” said Dan Redman, of St. Johns.
Each project takes place in the late spring and summer, it goes a little into the fall season and is completed by the end of October, according to Kudwa.
“The street millage is beneficial to the community because the streets are in better shape, smoother, no pot holes, easier to drive on. For what it’s worth, appearance of the streets is better as well,” said Beaman.
According to Kudwa, what they are doing is removing and putting in new asphalt, putting in barrier-free ramps for those who are in wheelchairs and who have other disabilities so that they can cross the intersections better, improving the water drainage and curb and gutter systems.
While some notice the repairs, others see room for improvement.
“The streets could be better, there are a lot of potholes, especially on the side streets,” said Rebecca Maggo, an employee at Main Street Cafe in St. Johns.
Maggo feels that as long as the money goes to the streets the project would be helpful as improving the riding quality of the streets.
There is some discussion going around about another round of the project so that streets that weren’t attended to this time around can be worked on.
“Every town and city would like to have strong, smooth roads and sidewalks that encourage safety and social interaction,” said Kenneth Boyer, a Michigan State University professor and specialist in highway and public transportation funding and transportation economics, in an email.
“Strong roads can support heavier traffic and do not need to be repaired as often. Smooth roads allow for faster driving and encourage interaction with other surrounding communities. Sidewalks are a matter of safety, whether walking in a town is encouraged or not,” said Boyer’s email.
Moving forward in the program they are expected to have everything completed by the end of fall 2017.