Some streets in Hillsdale underwent an extreme makeover this summer as part of the City of Hillsdale’s summer-long infrastructure project, which initially focused on replacing aging water and sewer lines close to the St. Joseph River.
The city didn’t stop there, as more projects are on track to be completed before the project comes to a close next month.
Two years ago, the city of Hillsdale applied for a $1 million Infrastructure and Capacity Enhancement (ICE) grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) without success. Applying again in 2017 for the same grant, which had grown to $2 million with a 10 percent match by the city, the city was granted the funds at last.
The estimated $2.2 million project began in April and is managed by Jake Hammel, the City of Hillsdale’s director of public services. The project began in April, and the city plans to complete it by late October.
Hammel has overseen the project throughout the summer and intends to keep the cost of construction to a minimum, though he also wants to impact local schools and businesses as little as possible.
“The longer construction window allows for cheaper cost,” Hammel said. “The scheduled completion date is the end of October and has been since we applied for the project. We strive to minimize the impact on businesses and students.”
As it stands, the project is on time and under budget.
“We’re expecting concrete to go in on the north side in mid-October,” Hammel said. “The window is really tight, but as long as we keep hitting our milestones I expect the project to be closed on time. The best part is we’re under budget.”
The crews made a fortunate discovery when digging up the old pipes earlier this year: the ground was mostly sand. This removed the need to haul sand to the site when refilling construction holes, saving the city $50,000.
The city of Hillsdale is busy completing its plan, according to its PSA:
“All of the storm sewer work is scheduled to be completed by the middle of September. Once all the underground work has been completed, attention will be turned to reconstruction of the streets including new concrete curb and gutters, concrete drive approaches, concrete sidewalk and asphalt paving.”
In a larger sense, this project is part of a couple of infrastructure projects that depart from the status quo of the city.
“We’ve done more street work this summer than in the last decade combined,” Hammel said. “For me, that’s a testament to [David] Mackie’s dedication to what the people want: better roads and sidewalks.”
This includes a plan to resurface Hillsdale and West Streets next summer, which is why the city patched potholes on those streets earlier this year.
The ICE project and others are projects Ward 2 Councilman William Morrisey said he thinks are unanimously good for the community.
He said the condition of roads have major economic consequences that the city wishes to avoid, like the lowering of property values that limit tax revenue to fix the roads, the increased repair cost to vehicles forced to drive on bad roads, and the increased cost of repair that comes from water that stays on roads and causes further road damage in the absence of appropriate storm sewers.
“These major road reconstruction projects, involving not only repaving but also installing the needed underground infrastructure and re-grading the road beds is an important step toward rebuilding the City’s infrastructure,” Morrisey said. “No one likes the inconvenience, but everyone will like the results.”