ST. JOSEPH — Berrien County Road Department officials say they get the point – Red Arrow Highway is in bad shape.
Steps will be taken this fall to begin to correct that problem, Road Department Director Jason Latham reported to the Board of Commissioners during a recent meeting.
Latham laid out details of an estimated $1.2 million project to resurface a 2.3-mile section of the road from the Bridgman city limits south to Browntown Road, and to replace nine culverts.
The work is slated to begin Sept. 4 to avoid disrupting summer tourist traffic, including vehicles going in and out of Warren Dunes State Park. One lane in each director on the four-lane road will be maintained at all times. Construction is expected to be completed by Nov. 15.
The funding includes $591,780 from the Federal Aid Rural Task Force; $281,237 in state funding; and $411,774 in matching funds from the Berrien County Road Department.
The project involves removing and replacing 4 inches of asphalt and repairing any bad concrete joints that are found.
This will use 19,000 tons of asphalt, equalling 396 truck loads, at 48 tons per truck, Latham said. There will be 65,000 square yards of asphalt removed, the equivalent of 10 football fields, he added.
Crews will install 762 feet of pipe, and lay down 31,220 feet of white pavement markings and 26,000 feet of yellow markings.
Commissioner Debra Panozzo asked the inevitable question: when will the rest of of the 10 miles of Red Arrow Highway, to U.S. 12 in New Buffalo Township, be fixed?
Residents and business owners have long complained about the condition of Red Arrow Highway. They point out that it is a safety hazard, and is bad for business as travelers bypass the area by driving on I-94, instead.
A group called Citizens for Fiscally Responsible Road Improvements lobbied last summer for the repairs on Red Arrow to be undertaken all at one time. Residents renewed their call for repairs at the commissioners’ April 5 meeting.
Latham, a former Michigan Department of Transportation manager hired as road department director in January, explained on Thursday he is developing an asset management approach to prioritize the most urgent work needed to be done.
The department will buy software to assist with this planning, he said.
This will result in a three-year plan to help the road department schedule necessary work, Latham said. The Berrien County Road Department is responsible for 1,500 miles of roadway, along with 400 major culverts and numerous bridges.