Already wary Attica business owners could be affected for several months
|Construction along Lake Pleasant Road in Attica began and ended abruptly Monday morning, when the project was put on hold until a new gas main and service lines can be installed. photo by Tom Wearing.|
August 01, 2007ATTICA — The road project set to begin Monday in downtown Attica has hit a major snag.
Shortly after workers arrived to begin pulverizing a portion of Lake Pleasant Road near the railroad tracks, word came that a pair of old gas lines are in the path of the project.
As a result, Lapeer County Highway Engineer Bill Meinz said crews had to be sent home, with the possibility it could be two months before the widening project resumes.
Meinz said he was advised early Monday by representatives from Consumers Power, that a new gas line will have to be bored beneath the roadway and new service lines connected to affected businesses and residences.
"This is a punch in the face to us," said Meinz. "Consumers apparently has two lines there, one high pressure and the other medium pressure. They are telling us it could take nine weeks to bore a new line and create new service lines to the new (gas) main."
Township Supervisor Al Ochadleus was equally frustrated with the development. He preferred to not lay blame or speculate as to why the matter surfaced just as the project was about to begin.
"That old pipe was installed in the 1930s," said Ochadleus. "We're being told that because of the age of the pipe, even the vibration of the project could cause damage.
"These kinds of things sometimes happen in construction projects like this one," he continued. "It's not going to impede the project."
The delay could further exacerbate the concerns of some downtown business owners worried about the scope and ramifications of the $306,000 project.
The repaving project, extending from Belle River north to M-21 is to include a center turn lane and curbing through town, but no sidewalks for pedestrians or bicyclists.
Dan Rowley, owner of Rowley's Market on the east side of Lake Pleasant, is concerned the project will bring the road within 10 feet of his front door.
"As far as parking and access, it's going to hurt us a lot," said Rowley. "For 50 years our customers have been able to pull right up to the front of the store. Now there won't be any room."
Rowley said he is considering adding more parking and a new entrance on the north side of the store, but that will require a major investment.
"It might help us," he said, "but that's going to cost a lot of money."
Angie Burgess, who owns the Pleasant Soul Cafe across the road, also has concerns. Hers are related to the safety of children who have to walk across the road or ride their bikes to her business.
"Right now they are using the sides of the road because there are no sidewalks," said Burgess, adding that the lack of sidewalks has been an ongoing problem. "I think sidewalks should come first."
Children's safety is also on the mind of Marci Wiegers, owner of The Chilly Cow ice cream parlor. "There are so many kids crossing the road, I'm just worried about them," said Wiegers. "With a turn lane, I'm concerned that cars will fly right through town. We don't want a highway going through here."
Meinz claims the eventual addition of the center lane will make it safer for pedestrians crossing Lake Pleasant. He added that there are plans for a painted crosswalk and pedestrian signs to better accommodate walkers and bike riders.
"It will be safer (with the turn lane)," said Meinz. "Motorists won't be rear-ending one another, and pedestrians will have an area of refuge when they're walking across the road."
Before the most recent setback, Meinz had predicted
the entire project would be completed as early as mid-August.
"We had hoped to get this done as expeditiously as possible to not upset the business owners," said Meinz. "Now we've had to cancel the sub-contractor and are being held up. We don't have a good sense of when things will proceed, but we need to get it done before the cold weather sets in."
The road project had been in the works for several years," said Meinz. Attica Township is contributing $35,000 toward the project, while the Lapeer County Road Commission is picking up the balance of $271,000. Consumers Power will foot the bill for the gas line work.
Based on a recent traffic study, about 4,600 cars and trucks traverse the section of roadway each day.