Road commission to begin summer projects

Part-time jobs available for season

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Motorists will encounter a number of roadway construction projects this summer as the Osceola County Road Commission begins working during the warmer season.

Osceola County Road Commission Manager Luke Houlton said many projects are still being coordinated, but there also are many scheduled to take place in the upcoming months.

"We'll have a busy summer," he said. "We've already started dust control in each quadrant just this week."

Commission employees are currently working in cooperation with Middle Branch Township to repair two failed culverts, one located on 50th Avenue and the other on 20th Avenue, both north of 15 Mile Road. Both are expected to open in mid-June, and the total cost is approximately $104,000.

Paving will take place in Sherman Township on 150th Avenue from 21 Mile Road to 22 Mile Road. Gravel projects in Sylvan, Osceola, Evart, Hersey and LeRoy townships also are expected to take place, and the commission is working on a $128,000 agreement in Lincoln Township, to repair 7 Mile Road from Lakeola Road to 220th Avenue.

The largest projects, however, consist of three contracted chip and fog seal projects, which are funded at local, state and federal levels at an estimated combined cost of $545,000. Houlton said one will take place on 135th Avenue from U.S. 10 to the end of the pavement by the Cargill plant. The second project will be located on 80th Avenue from 15 Mile Road to M-115. The third will take place on 18 Mile Road from Diamond Road to 140th Avenue. All three projects must start before July 11 and have up to 14 days to complete.

Locally funded chip and fog seal projects include 2 Mile Road from Old U.S. 131 to 180th Avenue and Mackinaw Trail from U.S. 10 north of Reed City to 6 Mile Road. The estimated cost of both projects is $135,000, Houlton said.

A chip seal consists of an asphalt emulsion. A truck will spray tar over the roadway, and a chip spreader will drop stones over the tar. A roller will follow to flatten the surface and press the stones into the tar. The tar acts as a sealant and the stones prevent tar from being transferred to vehicles as they travel over the road. Chip seals last about three to five years and are used as a preventative treatment on roads which are still in fairly good condition, Houlton added.

"A chip seal will keep that road good and it's much less costly than an asphalt overlay," he added.

Following the chip seal will be a fog seal, which is a very thin layer of an asphalt with a harder consistency, which not only creates the black color of the road, but also provides a stronger surface.

"That fog seal virtually eliminates stones from being kicked up by cars onto other cars," Houlton said.

The influx of work during the summer season also allows the commission to hire part-time workers. Houlton said six to eight seasonal employees are needed for patching, brushing and other types of roadway maintenance.

"We've trimmed back our crew and we do a lot of work over the summer," Houlton said. "We need people to help us with it all."