Federal COVID-19 relief funds pave the way for roadwork in Bay City

Over the next few years several streets in the City of Bay City will get facelifts courtesy of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

City Manager Dana Muscott says road repairs were planned, but ARPA is helping make repairs a reality sooner rather than later.

In March 2021, Bay City received about $31 million in ARPA funding and plans to $6 million of that money on road repairs. Another $10 million is going to replace lead water service lines. The infusion of funding means about 15 road projects planned for the future were fast tracked.

“Before ARPA funding became a reality, fixing our streets and roads has been a key concern for both city staff and residents,” Muscott says. “Like many other Michigan communities, it’s a tough balance of seeing the need and having the money to do what needs to be done.”

The city offers opportunities for people to learn about road construction plans, allowing them to plan alternative routes. City workers also take steps to inform people who live along the roads scheduled for construction.City Engineer Rachel Phillips acknowledges the streets in the program aren’t necessarily those that are in the worst shape. ARPA guidelines require that funds be allocated and spent before Dec. 31, 2024. City streets that need to be completely re-constructed will take much more time than that, Phillips says. 

“The intent is to keep fair to good pavement in good condition to keep them from getting worse, which costs much more,” Phillips says.

Department of Public Works Director Bob Dion adds the city is doing its best to move rapidly as it replaces the lead service lines, hoping to minimize traffic congestion. “We are filling the holes created by the water service to repair the lead service lines as quickly as we can,” he says.

The city’s road re-surfacing projects are part of the state’s Capital Preventive Maintenance Program, which aims to preserve roads that are in good to fair condition and keep them from deteriorating further and becoming hazardous.

The pre-emptive program handed down from MDOT in 2020 has been adapted to meet street maintenance requirements of Bay City, Phillips says. It includes guidelines for repairing city streets with a focus on micro-surfacing, chip-sealing, and overlaying asphalt.

In 2022, three streets are set for rehabilitation with ARPA funds:
  • Columbus Avenue between Saginaw Street and North Tuscola Road
  • McKinley Street from North Madison Avenue to North Monroe Street
  • Michigan Avenue from Cass Avenue to 32nd Street
Expected to start in August, the Columbus Avenue re-surfacing will cost an estimated $1.3 million. The other two projects, also slated to start in August, have slightly lower price tags. Michigan Avenue will cost $131,000 and McKinley Street about $54,000. Phillips says the estimates are based on average bids the city received in 2021.

“Although we were conservative with our estimates, with the price increases and supply shortages, the prices might come in higher than expected,” she adds.

In 2023 and 2024, additional ARPA-funded projects are scheduled for completion, but Phillips says timelines may need to be adjusted based on costs and when the funding runs out.

“We will construct the projects in order as planned, unless we run out of ARPA funds. If that happens, some of the later projects may have to be cut,” she adds.

Currently slated ARPA projects include:

2023 re-surfacing
  • East North Union Street from Wenona Avenue to North Henry Street
  • Ninth Street from North Van Buren Street to North Lincoln Street
  • Midland Street from Euclid Avenue to Wenona Avenue
  • Saginaw Street from Sixth Street to Second Street
  • Morton Street from Backus Street to Salzburg Avenue
  • Backus Street from Euclid Avenue to Morton Street
  • South Farragut Street from 32nd Street to Fremont Avenue
  • Adams Street from 11th Street to McKinley Street
  • Washington Avenue from Seventh Street to Woodside Avenue
  • Saginaw Street from 10th Street to Sixth Street
2024 re-surfacing
  • North Henry Street from East Vermont Street to Wilder Road
  • Mason Street from South Johnson Street to Trumbull Avenue
If you’ve got thoughts on the proposed 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan Update – which forecasts road, bridge, and non-motorized transportation projects – there’s a public hearing in August.Phillips adds federal grants and city street funds are financing additional road construction in the city. Updates on street construction in your neighborhood are available online.

Dion asks people to be patient during the work. He cautions people to drive slowly and carefully, especially near construction zones.

“We’re working diligently and trying to be as transparent as we can, but it is a construction site and people need to be aware that it is dangerous.” Dion says his department is communicating with people who live along the streets so they know what to expect.

While the roadwork means annoying detours through town right now, it should result in better traveling conditions in the future.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime funding opportunity that was presented to us through the American Rescue Plan Act, and we’re doing what’s in our power to ensure that it does the most good for our community and our residents,” Muscott says.

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