MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - Patience is a virtue. Most of us have heard that phrase and it is applicable to many aspects of life. Maintaining patience while driving, however, can be quite the struggle. And though other drivers and red lights are a common cause of losing one’s patience, the quick deterioration of the road surface has been equally as frustrating for many Michigan drivers. With last week’s rise in temperature pot holes have been popping out the asphalt as if by magic. Seemingly harmless cracks in the road have become road hazards in certain parts of Meridian Township.
“It is a little bit early this year. We’ve had a bit of a back and forth winter.”
Unfortunately for Meridian locals and commuters more patience with the road conditions will be necessary before things start to get better. Bill Conklin, the Managing Director of the Ingham County Road Department (ICRD) detailed why the potholes came out with particular quickness.
“We had a January thaw back in January and then we had cold temperatures and snow again here in February. About the worst combination of weather events we can have, where we have a lot of moisture in the system and freezing and thawing back and forth. And of course as most folks maybe are aware, when water freezes into ice it expands and that tends to create heaves if there’s any kind of cracking in the road. The moisture gets into those cracks, it expands, it pushes up, creates what we call a ‘frost heave bump.’ And then as it thaws that turns to liquid under there and heavier traffic will push that down and create a pothole.”
Conklin is as well versed in the remedies of potholes as he knows the causes, but the ICRD must wait for drier, warmer conditions to begin more permanent repairs. Along with the weather hampering things, a vital supply line is lacking for road repairs.
“We’re doing the best we can, but we don’t have the ability to remove whole sections of road and clean them up and properly repair them at this time of the year. We do, of course, have a lot of work planed in the summer months, to do more permanent repairs on some of the older sections of road. But right now really all we’re looking at it is patching with the materials that we have.”
The materials referred to by Conklin are quite literally the asphalt and manpower needed to fix the roads properly. When there is an early spring thaw it means waiting longer for the summer construction months to come around. Asphalt is not produced in the same quantity in February as it is in April in Michigan. Warm weather and supply will eventually catch up to demand. But those who make demand’s will have to channel their patience over the potholes for a while longer.
Fortunately for Meridian drivers this patience is guaranteed to pay off. The budget for road repairs has been set for 2018 and funding for Meridian Township road repairs is locked in.
“From the lack of road funding Michigan had during the 2008, 2009 recession, things got really behind with road work. We’re trying to catch up with the new road funding we just got started in 2017. But it’s going to take some time to catch up. We can’t do it all at once, and so there are some older sections of road out there. We’re trying to keep those patched as best we can.”
As pothole season gives way to construction season drivers will again have to re-channel their positive attitudes. Gone will be the bumps and rattles along the road but detours and orange construction barrels will bog down some Meridian roads. Jolly and Okemos near I-96 will be getting extra attention.
“Jolly Road will be under construction most of the summer. That’s a larger project. There’s some bridges and culverts there that need to be replaced and some grade corrections that are going to be occurring. We had a public meeting about that in the fall, and we’ve sent out literature to the residents about that project.”
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