Engineer says Church Avenue should be paved before school starts Sept. 1

REED CITY — The installation of concrete curbs on Church Avenue last week marked the half-way point of the $2.7 million water and sewer line upgrade project beneath six streets in Reed City.

Old 4-inch water and sewer lines are being replaced with 8-inch lines with the goal of increasing water flow to the west side of town and helping to alleviate water and sewer backups. The project was broken up into two parts; the first being the demolition of Church Avenue, from Chestnut to Patterson streets, for water and sewer line upgrades and the second being upgrading water and sewer lines under portions of Lincoln and Todd avenues, Tomahawk Lane and State and Sears streets.

“On Church (Avenue) everything underground is done,” said Reed City City Manager Ron Marek. “It’s a significant milestone in the project.”

Construction began in June on both portions of the project,with the Church Avenue strip being the first priority because of the street’s proximity to Reed City High School, where classes begin Sept. 1. The underground work on the second part still is being completed. Water mains have been installed and sewer lines are expected to be finished in the next few weeks before curbing and paving will begin.

“We’ve had no major snags (in the project),” Tom Bihlmeyer, project engineer from Wade Trim, an engineering company out of Traverse City. “The weather is the only thing now that could hold us up.”

USDA Rural Development approved the City for a project loan in April and construction began after school let out in June. Both phases of the project should be completely finished by the end of October, Bihlmeyer said.

After curbs were installed last Wednesday, those who live on Church Avenue were not able to use their driveway for a week as the concrete dried.

Mike Howe, who lives one house away from Church Avenue on Higbee St., has been letting his backyard neighbors, who live on Church Avenue, walk across his yard to get to their house while their driveways were not accessible.

Along with the extra yard traffic, dust from the exposed gravel on Church Avenue over the past two months has been a slight inconvenience, Howe said, but the benefits of the project will outweigh the negatives. A storm drain installed on Church Avenue near Higbee Street, will alleviate pooling of water which used to happen in front of his house.

“It’s good to know the city is improving things,” Howe said.“It’s good for the community and it won’t have to be done again for a long time.”

Along with drainage problems being resolved through the project, Howe expects parking issues also to decrease with the diagonal parking spaces set to go next to the softball field. The street in front of his house often is crowded during football games and other events at Reed City High School, Howe said, and the diagonal parking should provide more parking space during school events and softball games at the field.

“Diagonal parking is going to relieve a lot (of congestion) during events,” Howe said. “That’s good planning.”

After the concrete dries on the Chestnut Avenue curbs — which should be done by today (Wednesday) — crews will add eight inches of gravel and three inches of asphalt to finish the road. They will then add sidewalks and put the finishing touches on the road.

“Our goal is to have (Church Avenue) paved when school starts by Labor Day,” Bihlmeyer said. “It’s going to be a weather-permitting thing, but I think we can make it.”

The second layer of asphalt as well as the laying of top soil and grass seed near curbs will be completed after school starts, but Bihlmeyer expects the road to be open with the first layer of asphalt by the Sept. 1 date.

“We’re real happy with how (the project) is going,” Bihlmeyer said. “The contractors have been really good.”