Dig They Must

April 28, 2008
| By Pete Daly |
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Complete reconstruction of two major thoroughfares on the east side of Grand Haven began recently, with a targeted completion date in late August.

The reconstruction of Jackson and Waverly avenues to the east of U.S. 31, which started in April, will include replacement of the water and sewer infrastructure under the streets. Both projects together are budgeted to cost approximately $3.7 million. A grant from the federal Transportation Improvement Program, administered by the Michigan Department of Transportation, will cover about $645,000 of the cost.

The two projects are "a lot of work, and the city is leveraging their MDOT grant money, making the dollars go further," said Mike Berrevoets of Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc., the engineering firm designing both projects.

Bill Hunter, director of Grand Haven Public Works, said they generally reconstruct major streets "about every year." He said rebuilding the two streets at the same time, including the infrastructure under the pavement, is a huge project.

Jackson Avenue, a main thoroughfare on the north end of the city, will be rebuilt from the east side of U.S. 31 to North Griffin Street. Waverly Avenue, which cuts through the center of the city, will also be rebuilt on the east side of U.S. 31, from South Albee to Friant streets.

Berrevoets said both projects are scheduled to end on the same day. Weather permitting, he said, "they should be done by Aug. 29."

Two contractors have been hired to do the work on Waverly. According to Hunter, Jackson-Merkey Contractors Inc. of Muskegon is doing the utilities replacement work on Waverly. Reconstruction of the street will be done by Brenner Excavating of Hopkins.

One contractor, Wyoming Excavating, has been hired to do all the work on Jackson, according to Berrevoets.

John Rycenga is the owner of Rycenga Building Center on Jackson Avenue near N. Ferry Street. The 65-year-old business, which employs about 35 people, is about mid-way on the stretch of Jackson under re-construction.

Rycenga said he was anticipating "a little bit of a struggle all summer," although there will still be access to the business on at least one lane in each direction.

He said there probably has never been this amount of reconstruction done on that stretch of Jackson Avenue since the late 1950s or early 1960s.

Joy Gaasch, president of the Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven/Spring Lake/Ferrysburg, said Grand Haven city officials have been very good at communicating with the businesses about what's going to happen on both Jackson and Waverly.

"It's always an inconvenience … but the reality is the street work really needs to be done. Our hope is it will get done in a rapid fashion," she said. CQX

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