M-22 work to continue, off and on
Motorists traveling on M-22 just south of Leland have been tied up this week for anywhere from five to 30 minutes going to and from the unincorporated village due to an ongoing Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) maintenance project.
The project, which began Monday, includes filling cracks in the pavement and sealing the highway from Reynolds Street 1.7 miles south. That part of the state road has not undergone improvements since 2002, MDOT spokesman Bob Felt said.
“It’s part of keeping the roads in good shape,” Felt said.
Some motorists don’t feel the same way. Ed Paley, who lives just south of M-204 on M-22, has been greatly affected by the project, which has reduced traffic to one lane. He travels to Leland three times a week to play tennis.
“I sat there for 35 minutes. Normally, it’s a five-minute drive,” he said.
A retired mechanical engineer, Paley said he doesn’t know much about civil engineering. However, the road looks good to him.
“I’m not tuned into roads and bridges, but why are we doing a road that doesn’t need it?” Paley asked. “And why at this time of the year. It’s the height of the tourist season.”
Lahmann has shared Paley’s frustration.
“Both of the last two mornings, I’ve been stuck in it, having to go to Suttons Bay or Lake Leelanau before opening my store,” Lahmann said, adding his wait was seven minutes. “Fortunately, once visitors get to Leland they forget all about the troubles they had getting here.”
MDOT representative explained engineers apply a formula to the road which helps determine the remaining “surface life.” The formula helps determine when work should be performed.
“It’s more cost-effective to fix rather than reconstruct,” Felt said.
Pavement Maintenance Systems of Imlay City has the contract for the state project which was awarded through a competitive bid process. Cost of the reconstruction project is $253,000. The estimated cost of reconstructing the same 1.7-mile stretch is more than $2 million, Felt said.
Work is being done in stages over a maximum of seven working days to seal cracks and repaint pavement markings. Although motorist may notice periods of inactivity — notably during rainy weather, while sealed cracks are curing or after stripes have been painted — the slowdowns don’t mean the project is complete, Felt said.
The contract has an estimated completion date of late August or early September. Lee Bowen, chairman of the County Road Commission, said Tuesday that he doesn’t expect the project to take that long. He said the scheduled working days were padded as completion is somewhat dependent on the weather.
“They’ve been able to work every day, so it should be over soon,” Bowen said before rain began to fall Wednesday. Work was stalled yesterday forenoon due to showers.
Meanwhile, business owners who depend on a strong tourist season to get through the winter are hoping for a swift completion of the project.
“A few of my chamber members have complained quietly to me,” Lahmann said. “They have complained much more loudly than the people coming in.”
Locals can avoid the backup entirely by going along the east side of the lake on Co. Rd. 641 or Eagle Highway, up to M-22 and then going south to Leland.
The Leelanau County Road Commission has postponed paving in Leland where Lake and River Street are in need of repair.
“That’s all going to be repaved, but not until September,” Bowen said. “But since (the M-22 work) is a MDOT project, we don’t have quite the influence over scheduling.”