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Students who have driven around Marquette over the past couple of weeks have likely been detoured due to the amount of paving and reconstruction being done.
“Everyone . has to be patient. We are going to have better and nicer streets as a result of it, and people just have to be patient. The construction will be done in time for the snow,” said Marquette City Commissioner Robert Niemi.
The majority of roads downtown are being milled and overlaid, which means that the top inch or two is being taken off by a specialty machine. Once that is completed, the roads will be resurfaced, or overlaid with asphalt.
Some roads, like Michigan Street and Wright Street, are also undergoing infrastructure improvement where water mains are being replaced because they are outdated or not adequate to serve the people living there.
“The better pipes won’t break right away, and you don’t have to dig up the streets and upset traffic later on,” said Niemi.
This year, there isn’t much more construction being done than previous years, said Niemi, but what is making such a large inconvenience is that it is major roads, like Wright Street, that are being redone.
These arrangements were made six years ago in the Marquette Capital Improvement Plan. The Engineering Department of the City Commission went throughout the city and rated the roads based on quality. The roads of the lowest quality were put as a high priority to be fixed, and this list has determined what roads would be worked on each year. Some roads do not need as much work as others.
“In order to get more bang for your buck, you usually try not to completely restructure them, you basically just do an overlay,” said Keith Whittington, Marquette city engineer.
Funding for these changes, which is ultimately decided by the Marquette City Commission, comes from a variety of sources. Some of the money has come from grants, but lately the money is coming from a small increase in water and sewer fees and bonds that are sold by the city. This year, construction costs are down, which has made it possible to repave Lakeshore Boulevard in addition to the other roads, Whittington said.
The roads that are being milled and overlaid should be finished by next Monday, Sept. 14, weather permitting, and Wright Street is expected to be finished by mid-October, but some students feel as though they’ve waited long enough.
“One day even the sidewalks were chopped up so I had to walk my bike through the woods,” said Meg Ellis, junior photography and English writing major who lives on Wright Street.
Ellis said that she wishes the city would have started construction earlier in the summer so that it wouldn’t be such a large disturbance.
“The construction work wakes me up at about six in the morning because that’s when they start their work,” said Ellis. “I’ve gotten used to it.”
Marco Toledo, a senior sports science major who lives on Bluff Street, said that he has to go out of his way to get to school with all of the construction.
“I’ve never seen construction so slow,” Toledo said. “It seems like they waited for school to start before they began.”
Niemi said that though this is inconvenient for students right now as they return to campus and get settled into routines, ultimately it is unavoidable.
“The summer is when the construction is done, and unfortunately that stretches on into the school year, because we can’t do it in the winter,” Niemi said.