Road crews working on Hillsdale Street. Jake Hammel | Courtesy

Some­times it seems that Hillsdale’s roads are forever haunted by the ghosts of unavoidable ditches, detour signs, and the whining of heavy machinery.

According to Jake Hammel, director of public ser­vices for the city, res­i­dents and stu­dents can expect even more road con­struction in the upcoming months. But after this fall, he promises a long break for the city — at least where roads are con­cerned. 

Hamel said there are cur­rently two projects in progress, and one more will begin in Sep­tember. “I will assure com­pletion to happen this fall,” Hammel said. “In some way, shape, or form, I will make it happen.” 

Hammel listed con­tractor sched­uling issues, unfa­vorable weather, lack of man­power, and paperwork delays as some of the reasons that the con­struction is behind schedule and will con­tinue into the fall. 

All of the road work that is cur­rently in progress around campus on College and Hillsdale streets is part of the Street Preser­vation Project of 2019. 

“They’re not thinking about the stu­dents,” Hillsdale College junior Michaela Frohnen said of the news. “Con­struction seems to be going on all the time around here. We are living in a con­struction site basi­cally, and it isn’t very nice.”

The Street Preser­vation Project, which began Aug. 27, is a two-step process of laying new stones and then sealing them to the existing road. It is much cheaper than com­plete recon­struction, costing $30,000 per mile instead of $2.5 million, and should last up to six years. 

The project began the day before classes at the college started, halting traffic on major campus roads until Aug. 30. 

“I thought it was kind of silly,” Hillsdale College senior Alyssa Viola said of the timing. “I appre­ciate that they are addressing it, because the roads def­i­nitely needed to be updated, but it almost felt comical that they went for it at that time.” 

Hammel defended the con­struction dates, explaining that Hillsdale, an indus­tri­alized island in a sea of coffield for miles around, doesn’t exactly entice con­tractors to leave big cities where they have lots of oppor­tunity to work. 

“I am sure everyone is mad because they think we should have done it before school,” Hammel said. “But there is a con­tractor who has mil­lions of dollars worth of equipment, and unfor­tu­nately you have to conform with their schedule. I did every­thing within my power humanly pos­sible to do this before school, but ulti­mately these are just business deci­sions.” 

Last Friday did not mark the end of con­struction on campus roads. Crews will return this month to seal Hillsdale and College streets. Then, Sept. 15, crews are scheduled to begin another project to refurbish Gal­loway Drive, beginning at its junction with Hillsdale Street and con­tinuing to the city limits. 

The astute observer, however, will have noticed the ditch on Hillsdale Street between the college and Car­leton Road that seemed to grow slowly over the course of the past few months. 

Though it is on Hillsdale Street, Hammel said that it is not actually part of the Hillsdale Street recon­struction project and therefore is not slated for com­pletion until the end of the semester. 

Instead, it is part of the Infra­structure Capacity Enhancement project, which began May of 2018, and which calls for a com­plete recon­struction of Garden, Vine, and Ripon streets, including new pipes, curves, sewer mains, and water mains.

This project, which will repair the ditch and mark the end of Hillsdale road work for the next few years, will be com­pleted this fall and cost the city a total of $2.5 million.