Clinton County Road Commission, DeWitt Township and the City of DeWitt are holding a meeting Nov. 13 for the public to discuss and explain plans for the road and sidewalk construction set to begin next year.
The construction will be a significant undertaking, affecting residents who live in areas around major roads like Airport Road, Herbison Road and Coleman Road, among others. Construction will also affect three major bridges in the DeWitt area.
Members of the public are encouraged to attend, as the meeting is focused on “informing the public in regards to the timing of each one of those projects,” said Brett Wittenberg, the community development director of DeWitt Charter Township.
One of Wittenberg’s tasks for the meeting is to provide maps of the public.
He said a major point of discussion in the meeting will be avoiding disruptions to public life.
“We [will] try and get certain projects done between the time school ends next year and the start of the following school year,” Wittenberg said.
DeWitt City Administrator Daniel Coss said construction may force drivers to take a new route. Sidewalks will be poured in front of homes and front yard trees may need to be trimmed, he said.
In large part, the meeting is set to give the public fair warning of potential delays in their daily commutes.
“In hopes that they will extend some patience during the road construction season for next year,” Coss said. “And that it’s not a big surprise when the barrels and the orange signs all show up.”
Informing the public has been a top priority for Dan Armentrout, director of engineering for the Clinton County Road Commission. He has been going from door to door since spring.
“Many of the people, if they live on the routes that we’re doing, I probably already knocked on their door and stood in their front yard and talked to them about the project,” Armentrout said.
Armentrout has made a point of listening to homeowners’ concerns along the way.
“How can we, you know, make this so it’s less painful. or to work with those property owners along the route?” he said.
Coss said, so far, the feedback has been almost all positive.
“I think that everybody recognizes that we live in a very urbanized area,” Coss said. “We are a city, and this has become—sidewalks and bike paths have become—an expectation, not necessarily a luxury. People expect that sidewalks are available to ride their bike on and to walk on.”
Coss said there are several ways the citizens of DeWitt will benefit. The new sidewalks will allow foot traffic between certain neighborhoods and downtown DeWitt, a benefit that businesses will notice once the development is finished.
“But also from a quality of life perspective,” Coss said. “DeWitt is a very active community. People like to go out and they like to run and ride their bikes and walk.”
The projects ahead will be a huge undertaking for all involved, Armentrout and Wittenberg said. But rather than balk under pressure from the road ahead, Armentrout said he is excited. Last decade’s recession made him grateful for the new work.
“It’s one of those things that that’s what I live for,” Armentrout said. “I’m a civil engineer; I want to build stuff. To go through that recession and think, ‘Holy smokes, can we scrape up something to do something next year?’ And now things are rolling well.”
Construction is expected to begin around March 1, Armentrout said, with the biggest projects set to be finished by the end of August.
The Nov. 13 meeting will take place at DeWitt Charter Township Hall at 6:30 p.m.