Con­struction crew works on new culvert for the Fayette Street bridge. Courtesy | Genevieve O’Gara

Con­struction on Fayette Street remains on schedule with the road set to reopen tem­porarily in early December and be com­pleted in early May, according to Hillsdale City Engineer Kristin Bauer.

Bauer said the precast portion of the culvert — a con­crete bridge over the St. Joseph River — is in place. A sub­con­tractor will con­struct the remainder of the culvert on site, with an expected finish in early December.

Ward 2 Coun­cilman and Mayor Pro Tempore Will Mor­risey said the mild weather this fall allowed the new culvert to be installed, keeping the project on schedule.

Because of the expense of renting cranes, the con­struction crew worked quickly to install the culvert, Mor­risey said.

“They had a very long night,” Mor­risey said. “They wanted to do it all at once and they didn’t want to stop.”

Tem­porary pavement will be placed on the road next week, allowing the road to open for traffic in early December. Due to con­struction require­ments, the road will be nar­rower and have a curve at the culvert throughout the winter.

Mor­risey said heavy trucks won’t be able to use the road until the project is com­pletely fin­ished in May, but cars and foot traffic will.

The walk to the college from his home on Fayette Street took him 20 minutes prior to the closure, Mor­risey said, but it now takes 30 minutes. He said he uses the bike path to avoid the road closure.

“The bike path is easy to use in the day, but at night you might want to use the buddy system or bring a flash­light,” Mor­risey said.

Mor­risey said Fayette Street has been a problem ever since he moved to Hillsdale 20 years ago. The lack of drainage filled the road with pot­holes. Many of the city’s streets were built in the 1920s and need maintenance.

“This being Michigan, lots of water freezing and thawing broke up the street,” Mor­risey said. “Now it’s going to have good drainage which will make the road last a lot longer.”

When he ran for city council, Mor­risey said he asked people what the biggest issue in the town was, and received an over­whelming response: bad roads.

 “The other coun­cilmen were hearing the same thing,” Mor­risey said. “There was a con­sensus to move ahead and that’s what we’ve done.”

Mor­risey said the project is going well, but there are still inconveniences.

“Street work is dirty, noisy, and stressful,” Mor­risey said. “That’s just the way it is. But the payoff is that you get a road.”

Senior Teresa McNeely said the road work has made life noisier for her and her friends, who live near the road closure.

“I have to get cre­ative, and to go down a couple streets that I didn’t even know existed,” McNeely said.

Despite this, McNeely said she’s glad Fayette Street is being repaired.

“It was a hor­rible road, espe­cially for my poor little car,” McNeely said.

The other major incon­ve­nience for res­i­dents near con­struction sites was having their water shut off for 12 hours and unusable for another 48 hours starting on Sept. 22.

“It was a mad scramble in our house,” McNeely said. “We all brought our water bottles up the hill to fill them.”

McNeely said she used Fayette Street in the past to walk to grocery stores, using the wooden bridge that the new culvert is replacing.

“The trees are really pretty and crossing the creek was really nice,” McNeely said. “Replacing the bridge will be sad because I really did like walking across, but I think it’s probably a good idea.”