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.”