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Tag Archive | "Kent County Road Commission"

Four townships partner on 16 Mile Road construction


16 Mile Road, west of Keller Avenue: Two miles of newly constructed road, from Pine Lake Avenue to Keller Avenue. The third mile, between Keller Avenue and Harvard Avenue, will be complete in October 2018.

Where four townships meet: 16 Mile Road and Keller Avenue. Pictured (left to right) Patrick Malone, Commissioner, KCRC; John Wood, Trustee, Spencer; Sharon Fase, Trustee, Spencer; Lisa Wright, Clerk, Spencer; Catherine Knapp, Deputy Treasurer, Spencer; Jeff Knapp, Supervisor, Spencer; Mike Krygier, Supervisor, Courtland; Tom Hoskins, Resident, Courtland; Laura Hoffman, Clerk, Nelson; Maureen Mahoney, Trustee, Nelson; Robyn Britton, Supervisor, Nelson; Jerry Byrne, Deputy Managing Director, KCRC.

By Maura Lamoreaux, Kent County Road Commission

The Kent County Road Commission’s multi-year, three-mile-long, gravel-to-pavement construction project on 16 Mile Road, from Pine Lake Avenue to Harvard Avenue, readies for completion this summer. This is largely due to the collaborative effort among the townships of Courtland, Oakfield, Nelson and Spencer. The funding needed to transform the three miles of gravel road to pavement required a united effort from these neighboring communities because, as a borderline road, 16 Mile Road falls within each of the townships, which sit to its north and south.  

Generally, the financing of a borderline road improvement project can be tricky to secure because of the road’s physical divide among townships. Agreements made by townships prior to January 1931 sought to alleviate this type of confusion by assigning construction—and therefore, financial—responsibilities to one of the adjoining townships. As per the agreement, the identified township would be responsible for 100 percent of the local share of a borderline road project despite two townships sharing the border.

Assuming full responsibility for the local share of a road project, for which only half of the road resides in the township’s own jurisdiction, can be a tough sell. Given budgetary constraints, why finance a borderline road project when another improvement project resides fully within the township’s limits? Conversely, why would a township that is not assigned construction responsibility feel compelled to support a borderline road project financially?

In the case of 16 Mile Road, the road’s high-volume use helped to sway the four townships to partner in financing the three miles of work, despite the recorded assignment of construction responsibility. Ultimately, each township decided that the project was in their residents’ best interest because it provided a new, and in-demand, pavement-to-pavement connection.

“The traffic counts helped demonstrate how important 16 Mile was to the residents who live in this area. Once the project was considered a win for everyone, it became a matter of the townships discussing how to collaborate financially in order to complete construction,” said Jerry Byrne, KCRC’s Deputy Managing Director of Operations.

The funding of local road projects like 16 Mile Road is cost shared between the township and KCRC. For gravel-to-pavement construction, this equates to 45 percent of the funding coming from the road commission, 55 percent from the township. 

Although construction started on the first mile of the 16 Mile Road project in 2015, the conversation about the project began between KCRC and township officials in 2011. After these initial discussions, representatives from KCRC hosted multiple informational meetings for township residents, during which questions could be raised and issues discussed.

“That first meeting, we packed the house, and it was in January with really bad weather! So that was a good sign,” said Courtland Township resident Tom Hoskins, who lives on 16 Mile Road. 

Public Hearings held by KCRC’s Board then followed, preceding each mile of construction. Year after year, an overwhelming number of residents demonstrated their support by attending the hearings or writing to the Board in advance of the vote, to urge the commissioners’ approval.

“One of our township officials joked that the road commission’s parking lot was so full for the meeting, he couldn’t find a space,” said Hoskins.

In 2015, the first mile of the project began between Pine Lake Avenue and Tisdel Avenue, and the second mile, between Tisdel Avenue and Keller Avenue, followed in 2016. The local share of the two-mile stretch was funded by its bordering townships, Courtland and Nelson. In 2018, construction began on the final mile of the project, between Keller Avenue and Harvard Avenue, with the local share funded by the bordering townships of Oakfield and Spencer.

“We are happy to see the entire stretch completed and thank everyone for the cooperation,” said Greg Dean, Oakfield Township Supervisor.

“As we enter the third and final phase of this joint project, I have enjoyed the cooperative spirit of Nelson, Courtland and Oakfield Townships in making this project reality. A special thank you to the road commission for keeping us well informed and to the residents for their patience in enduring the construction activity,” said Jeff Knapp, Spencer Township Supervisor.
Resident support remains high, exemplified by the community-wide street parties thrown after each mile is completed. 

 “We’re very happy,” said Hoskins. “Some people have even purchased new cars!”

“This project has become a labor of love for each of the communities, and it exemplifies what can be accomplished when the road commission and townships partner and collaborate for the benefit of the residents we serve,” said Steve Warren, KCRC’s Managing Director. 

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Four-way stop installed at 13 Mile and Pine Island


This was the scene of a fatal crash two weeks ago at 13 Mile and Pine Island. Post photo by L. Allen.

Drivers traveling 13 Mile Road in Algoma Township need to be aware that they are now required to stop at Pine Island. Previously only those traveling on Pine Island were required to stop.

The Kent County Road Commission put the new stop signs in this week after the Kent County Board of Commissioner approved the all-way stop on Monday, August 14, during their August board meeting. 

It was just two weeks ago that Todd Carlson, 49, of Casnovia, was killed at that intersection while traveling westbound on 13 Mile after an eastbound vehicle turned left into his vehicle.

According to a press release from the Kent County Road Commission, “Modifications to traffic control are dictated by regulations set forth by the Federal Highway Administration, who identifies specific warranting criteria that must be met for a traffic control change to occur. The Kent County Road Commission routinely monitors intersections throughout its road and bridge network for changes that meet warrants for traffic control modification. Recent analysis of traffic volumes and crash history at the 13 Mile Road and Pine Island Drive intersection indicate that the necessary warrants have been met for an all-way stop to be installed.”

The intersection joins two other intersections—13 Mile and Algoma and 13 Mile and Edgerton—as four-way stops.

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Flooding across West Michigan


 

 

Cedar Creek has flooded behind the Cedar Springs Library. Post photo by J. Reed.

Cedar Creek rises; roads closed due to standing water

By Judy Reed

Rain and ice melt caused swollen creeks and rivers across West Michigan to begin to overflow their banks this week, as well as cause pooling of water in low lying areas.

Cedar Creek in Cedar Springs flooded behind the fire station and library Tuesday, and the creek was full at Veteran’s Park (at Oak and Main). There was standing water north of the park and in North Park. It was also high at Fifth and Cherry Streets. Water did flow over the road for a time at the intersection of Main and Pine Street. Many roads in the outlying areas were closed due to water over the road.

The Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) is updating information on road closures regularly on its website (www.kentcountyroads.net/alert) as well as social media accounts. “KCRC crews continue to investigate standing water and flooded areas and are placing barricades and flashers where necessary. We are assessing roads and are closing/opening them as conditions warrant. Motorists are asked to slow down and heed warnings and closures,” said Steve Warren, Managing Director of the Road Commission. “Today, our crews will continue clearing catch basins, cleaning spillways, repairing washouts and patching potholes. In these conditions, heavy grading equipment would worsen conditions on gravel roads. Therefore, crews will grade gravel roads when dryer conditions allow.”

Cedar Creek at Veterans Park, at Oak and Main Street, on Feb. 20, 10 a.m. Post photo by J. Reed.

Other parts of the county are seeing a lot of standing water as well. Kent County Emergency Management said that they, along with numerous agencies, continue to monitor and respond to flooding emergencies being seen throughout the area. They noted that floodwaters are having a dramatic impact on transit and housing. The waters will likely continue to rise through Saturday, causing many additional concerns for businesses and residents.

“The Sheriff’s Office and I are working closely with the National Weather Service, State and County agencies, the City of Grand Rapids, other impacted communities, as well as American Red Cross and Salvation Army,” said Jack Stewart, Kent County Emergency Management Coordinator. “Our primary goal is the safety and well-being of our residents and first responders. While the levels are not expected to be as high as they were in 2013, we still need to be as diligent in our response.”

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for a multitude of counties, including Kent County until 1 p.m. Thursday. The rain stopped early Wednesday.

“Our Emergency Operations staff will continue monitor the situation throughout the week,” said Jack Stewart, Kent County Emergency Management Coordinator. 

Water just at the bottom of the bridge over Cedar Creek at Main and Oak Street, at 10 a.m. on Feb. 20, 2018. Post photo by J. Reed.

If you have water in your home/basement, it could be contaminated with E coli. Handle items that come in contact with flood waters with care, either by disposing of wet items or when possible, cleaning wet items with a disinfectant. 

Stewart says there are a few items to keep in mind regarding flooding:

*Turn around, don’t drown. Just two feet of floodwaters can sweep away a car. If you see flood water in the road, or barricades/signs posted on roads, for your safety and that of first responders, please turn around and take a different route. 

*Do not try to walk or swim through flood waters. River and creek waters can move fast and carry debris that can be dangerous. Six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock people off their feet. 

*Keep pets away from flood waters.

*Prepare in advance. If you live in an area prone to flooding, make sure personal identification items (i.e. passports and birth certificates) are protected. Back up computer files and keep them in a safe place or store them in a cloud-based service. 

*Stay tuned to alerts via TV, radio or weather apps for your phone. 

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Teen gets jail time for crash


 

Phillip Allen Garcia

A Solon Township teen was sentenced to jail time Monday for causing a crash last May that killed another driver.

Phillip Allen Garcia, 19, was southbound on Myers Lake Avenue about 11:30 a.m. on May 13, 2017, when he ran the stop at 18 Mile Rd in Nelson Township and hit an eastbound vehicle driven by Edward Czarnecki, 59, of Oakfield Township. Czarnecki was pronounced dead at the scene. Garcia sustained minor injuries in the crash.

Garcia pled no contest to reckless driving causing death, and on Monday was sentenced to 270 days in the Kent County jail, five years probation and over $4,000 in restitution.

Investigators say an airbag sensor indicated he was going 73 mph just before the crash, and may have also been using his cell phone.

After the crash, The Post checked with the Kent County Road Commission to find out if the number of crashes at the intersection warranted a four-way stop or a light. Maura Lamoreaux, spokesperson for the Kent County Road Commission, said a study had been done on the intersection, and that it did not warrant changes to traffic control, but that they would continue to monitor it.

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Should 15 Mile and Ritchie intersection be a four-way stop?


Meranda Baguss was killed at the intersection of 15 Mile and Ritchie in September when a pickup ran the stop sign. Photo from gofundme.com.

By Judy Reed

On September 15, 2017, a young Cedar Springs mother, Meranda Baguss, 31, was killed and her twin five-year-old boys critically injured when a pickup truck ran the stop sign at Ritchie and 15 Mile and slammed into her vehicle. Since then, and even before the crash, that intersection has been a topic of complaint among residents. One person related that she recently slowed down as she reached the intersection, and witnessed another pickup truck blow through the stop sign. She was glad she slowed down, especially with having her two young grandchildren in the car. After hearing this, the Post decided to contact the Kent County Road Commission to find out if the intersection qualified for some type of traffic control upgrade.

Maura Lamoreaux, spokesperson for the Kent County Road Commission, explained how the system works. “Although it seems logical that traffic control modifications would improve the safety of an intersection, it is not always the case. In some instances, the traffic control change serves to only alter the type of crashes that occur and can potentially increase the number or severity of accidents,” she explained. “Therefore, it is essential that KCRC investigates each accident thoroughly, works with law enforcement to determine causation, and follows federally-mandated warrants regarding modifications to traffic control.”

Lamoreaux said that after the accident that occurred at the 15 Mile Road and Ritchie Avenue intersection in September, KCRC conducted a crash site investigation, as is procedure for crashes involving serious injury or fatality. “This investigation included performing an updated traffic study for the intersection. The study included analysis of both traffic volume and crash history to determine if specific warrants were met to modify traffic control. These warrants are defined in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) published by the Federal Highway Administration and serve as the criteria that must be fulfilled for road agencies to implement a traffic control modification. Based on the warrant study conducted, neither volume levels nor crash numbers/patterns meet warrant criteria for a traffic control modification,” she said.

Lamoreaux said that the most recent traffic counts at this intersection indicate that the volumes are about a quarter of the required volumes.

“The accident warrant in the MUTCD states that a 4-way stop may be considered if there have been 5 or more correctable accidents in a 12-month period. Correctable accidents include right-angle, right-turn, and left-turn accidents. Over the last 5-¾ years (2012-September 2017) there have been 3 correctable (angle-type) crashes; this averages to less than 1 per year,” she explained. 

Lamoreaux added that there are currently “Stop Ahead” signs in each direction on Ritchie Avenue and intersection warning signs in both directions on 15 Mile Road.

The Kent County Road Commission will continue to monitor the intersection for changes that would warrant traffic control modification, she said.

 

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Sparta man killed in crash on M-57


A Sparta man died early Wednesday morning after rolling his vehicle on M-57 in Courtland Township.

According to the Michigan State Police Rockford Post, the crash occurred on M-57 (14 Mile Rd) shortly after 6 a.m., November 1. The investigation showed that a 2004 Chevrolet Impala, driven by Vincent John Cooper, 20, of Sparta, was travelling eastbound on M-57 near Berrigan Ave. and attempted to overtake a semi-truck, also eastbound on M-57. The Impala drove off onto the left shoulder of the roadway, lost control, then spun back across the roadway before striking a curb on the right shoulder of the roadway, going into the ditch, and rolling multiple times.  

Cooper was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. Police said he was not wearing his seatbelt and speed is believed to be a factor in the crash. 

The Michigan State Police were assisted at the scene by the Courtland Twp. Fire Department, Rockford Ambulance, and Kent County Road Commission.

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Beach student a winner in work zone safety competition


 

Adeline Bender, a third-grader at Beach Elementary, is shown with her winning sign from the Work Zone Safety Poster Contest put on by the Kent County Road Commission and Kentwood Public Works Departments. Photo courtesty of Maura Lamoreaux, Kent County Road Commission.

Adeline Bender was one of four students selected as winners

“Avoid distractions. Somebody needs you!” Hritvi Mahajan, a third grade student at Orchard View Elementary, incorporated this powerful warning into her winning entry for the first annual Work Zone Safety Poster Contest sponsored by the Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) and the Kentwood Public Works Department.

For the contest, third grade students from throughout Kent County were invited to design caution signs promoting safe driving habits through a work zone.

“It is critical to the safety of motorists and our workers, alike, that extra caution is taken when driving through work zones. We want to instill these values early so that good habits become second nature by the time these students are ready to drive,” said Steve Warren, managing director of Kent County Road Commission.

To assist teachers, an online work zone safety resource folder was created, which included a letter to families explaining the contest, a three-minute work zone safety video, and a hand-out identifying the American Society of Safety Engineers’ safety tips for driving through a work zone.

Student submissions were judged on creativity, originality, and their ability to strongly convey a message. Out of 54 submissions received, four winning entries were selected:

• Adeline Bender, of Beach Elementary, Cedar Springs, Teacher Kim Rockwell

• Maria Huston, St. Patrick Parnell, Ada. Teacher Elizabeth D’Aurora

• Hritvi Mahajan, Orchard View Elementary, Forest Hills, Teacher Angie Wagaman

• Faith Rogers, Appleview Elementary, Sparta, Teacher Linnea Hurley

Every contestant receives a certificate of appreciation for participating in the competition and the winners receive their design replicated on a 10×10 aluminum sign, along with a KCRC sweatshirt. The four winning entries were also transferred onto 18×18 aluminum signs and will be used at local events by KCRC to promote work zone safety.

A display exhibiting all of the contest’s entries was showcased at the 2017 APWA Family Event on May 17 at the Kentwood Public Works building.

“Community support is crucial to the work that we do and to the safety of our motorists and workers. We applaud our newest ‘safety advocates’ for helping us spread the word and sharing important tips for driving through a work zone,” said Warren.

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Oakfield Twp man dies in crash


N-Fatal-crash-18-Mile-and-Myers-Lake-courtesy-photo

A man was killed in Nelson Township last weekend after another driver ran a stop sign and hit his vehicle.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, the crash occurred shortly before 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 13, at the intersection of 18 Mile Rd and Myers Lake Ave. Police said that Phillip Allen Garcia, 18, of Solon Township, was driving a Chevy Monte Carlo southbound on Myers Lake Ave and ran the stop sign at 18 Mile. His vehicle then struck an eastbound Chevy Impala that had the right of way.

The driver of the Impala, Edward Allen Czarnecki, 59, of Oakfield Township, was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Monte Carlo sustained minor, non-life threatening injuries.

Cedar Springs Fire and Rescue and Spencer Township Fire and Rescue assisted at the scene.

Alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the crash. Both drivers wore seatbelts and the crash remains under investigation.

The Post checked with the Kent County Road Commission to find out how many crashes have occurred at this intersection over the last five years.

According to spokesperson Maura Lamoreaux, prior to this crash, there have been nine crashes at that intersection over the last five years and four months (2013 to April 2017). One of them was fatal (in 2013). So about two per year.

She said that to modify traffic control at an intersection, the Kent County Road Commission must follow warrants in accordance with the “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices” by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation. “This is the state and national standard,” she explained.

Lamoreaux added that a study was just completed for the intersection, and it showed that the intersection did not warrant changes to traffic control. “We will continue to monitor this intersection for any changes that would warrant a modification in traffic control,” she said.

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An unsightly mess


 

Shaner Ave. (Nelson Township) between 17 and 18 Mile Roads has recently been turned into an unsightly mess. The mess is not only in the ditches along the road, but also left on the properties of current residents. Consumers Energy and the Kent County Road Commission came through with heavy equipment and cut a long wide path of trees and brush. This ugly defacing of Shaner was done most recklessly and without regard for the properties on which their work was done. Several property owners have lost large trees, which now lay on their properties in large hunks or piles. Heavy equipment was used to mow down brush and topple trees. In some of the areas where work was done, a lot of debris was left. Tree trunks and uprooted trees lay on the wide swath of loose and lumpy mounds of water-soaked soil that was also dug up. Pieces of shredded brush lay on the narrow shoulder of the road, being a hazard for bikers, walker, and joggers. Ditches were damaged where the heavy equipment went on and off the road, which will result in water backing up into residents’ yards when it rains, if the ditches aren’t repaired. This all was done to accommodate the development project, White Pine Ridge, now in progress on Shaner and 18 Mile Roads. We residents on Shaner appear to have to deal with the ugly side of progress at work. In the beginning, Nelson Township officials appeared to believe that the condominium development would give something back to the community. So far it has only been costly for the Township, particularly in attorney’s fees. This is only the beginning of many adverse effects that the development will have on residents along Shaner and 18 Mile Roads. I ask: will it be progress or progressive devastation to a peaceful quiet and uncrowded rural community?

Mary Stidham, Nelson Township

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KDL board and Fire commission needs volunteers


 

Are you a citizen in northern Kent County that is interested in the Kent District Library? Or an elected township official interested in serving on the county Fire Commission?

The Kent County Board of Commissioners is seeking citizens who are interested in serving the community through appointment to the following Boards and Committees:

Kent District Library Board Region 1 – to fill an unexpired four-year term ending December 31, 2018. Applicants must live in Nelson, Oakfield, Spencer or Tyrone Township. The Kent District Library Board meets monthly at the District Headquarters, 814 W. River Center, Comstock Park, as well as at other participating libraries.

Fire Commission – to fill an unexpired two-year term ending December 31, 2018. Applicants must be a township elected official from a unit of government that participate in the Fire Commission. The Fire Commission meets monthly on the second Friday of the month (does not meet in April, July and October) at 8:30 a.m. at the Kent County Road Commission, 1500 Scribner, Grand Rapids (with the exception of the October meeting).

Applicants must complete an online application form via the County’s website at www.accesskent.com/boardappointments. Resumes and cover letters are encouraged and may be attached. The deadline to apply is Friday, April 28, 2017.

Please call the Board of Commissioners Office at 616.632.7580 if you have any questions.

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