Ishpeming streets will get facelift

ISHPEMING – The City of Ishpeming can expect to see a number of streets throughout the city repaved in 2014, predominantly using funds from the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Small Urban Program.

The MDOT program provides federal Surface Transportation Program funding to areas with an urbanized population of 5,000 to 50,000, according to the MDOT website.

Ishpeming City Manager Mark Slown said at the Ishpeming City Council meeting Wednesday that the city recently received a letter from MDOT with a contract to approve the repaving of sections of a number of city streets in 2014.

The streets to be repaved are: Second Street at Bessemer Street, and Second from Empire Street to Michigan Street; Euclid Street from Spruce Street to Main Street; Main from Empire to Arch Street; Hematite Drive from Lakeshore Drive to Lake Street; Seventh Street from Division Street to Cleveland Avenue; and First Street from Hematite Drive to Ely Street.

“My understanding is that we share these (MDOT) funds on a three-year rotating basis with other cities in the county, and this is our year,” Slown said. “If we don’t use the funds, they go away.”

The council unanimously approved a motion authorizing Slown to sign the contract, contingent upon its review and approval by City Attorney David Savu.

The estimated cost of the paving project is $459,900, Slown said, of which the city’s match amount is $84,900. The rest of the funds will come from MDOT. The city’s portion of the funding is included in the 2014 budget, which the council also approved at Wednesday’s meeting.

However, Slown had some reservations about the project.

“When I heard about this, I was extremely concerned that we were going to pave streets without addressing the water and sewer issues under those streets,” he said. “Nothing infuriates the citizens more than paving a street and then tearing it back up the next year or even the next week” because the water and sewer infrastructure concerns weren’t addressed.

With the newly-raised water and sewer rates, Slown said the city will now have the capital available to address some of these issues, and he plans to bring an additional proposal to the council at a later date for fixing the sewer and water infrastructure beneath the streets in question at the same time they’re repaved.

Similar problems regarding the necessity of sewer and water infrastructure work had the city council and the Ishpeming Downtown Development Authority scrambling in August to fund the replacement of water mains and storm sewers beneath Hematite Drive and Main Street, or risk losing the $398,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to repave those street surfaces. That month the DDA approved spending an additional up to $400,000 for those repairs, so as not to jeopardize the current or potential future grants from the MEDC.

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.