Street repairs coming to St. Joseph

Eastbound drivers on Port Street in St. Joseph can now make left-hand turns onto northbound Main Street, following signal and lane changes at the intersection. City officials hope this will alleviate congestion at the road that leads from Silver Beach and downtown, especially during the summer.

ST. JOSEPH — St. Joseph commissioners on Monday received an update on upcoming street projects and work that has been recently completed.

Engineer Tim Zebell reported that preventative maintenance projects from 2018 had been completed, with 7.4 miles of pavement repaired. This included 1.8 miles of major streets and 5.6 miles of local streets. The work done on four streets last year was such a success that staff added Lake Boulevard, from Sutherland Avenue to Main Street, and Wallace Avenue from Lakeshore Drive to South State Street, this spring, Zebell said.

The fog seal “penetrates and rejuvenates” the roadway, Zebell told commissioners.

The original bid from Gee Asphalt Systems was for $112,812, but the city expects a change order of more than 10 percent, which should put the final cost at $130,454. That’s still within the budget for street maintenance, Zebell said, calling it “money well-spent.”

Another project recently completed was a change in the signal and markings at Port and Main streets by Strain Electric, that will allow eastbound vehicles on Port to make a left turn onto northbound Main, which had been prohibited. City staff expects this to lessen traffic congestion, especially during the summer.

Another lane change was made at Main and Ship streets, at the suggestion of a resident. The eastbound straight and right-turn lane, on the west side of Main Street, was converted to a right-turn only lane, and the eastbound left turn lane was combined with the straight through lane. This is expected to make it easier to make a right turn onto Main.

City commissioners awarded a cape seal project to American Pavement Inc. in March. They intend to start the work sometime between July 15-29 on Lakeview Avenue, from Winchester Avenue to Wallace Avenue, and Old Lakeshore Road, from Lakeshore Drive to Sunnybank Road. A cape seal is a two-step process consisting of a chip seal, followed by micro-surfacing over the chip seal one to four days after the chip seal is placed.

This is a new process for St. Joseph, Zebell explained, and they expect to hear some concerns regarding the loose stone while the chip seal is left uncovered. However, this treatment extends pavement life at about half the cost of a resurfacing project, he said.

Bids for a crack sealing project are expected by July 10. The contractor awarded the project will start between July 29 and Nov. 8, and must complete the work within 15 working days of the start date. The project is budgeted at up to $100,000, and the engineering department expects to provide commissioners with the recommended bid on July 22.

Streets slated for sealing include Lakeview Avenue and Lake Boulevard; Lions Park Drive; Court, Church and Wayne streets; Napier Avenue; Hilltop Road west from the railroad tracks; Old Lakeshore Road; and Wallace Avenue. Zebell said the city selected the streets in the best shape to seal first, as part of its asset management plan to keep these surfaces from deteriorating.

Commissioners also awarded Abonmarche a contract for $345,210 for design and construction engineering for reconstruction projects on Kingsley, Morton and Orchard avenues, scheduled for 2020. That includes $178,330 for design and $166,880 for construction engineering.

Abonmarche was one of three companies to submit a bid, along with DLZ, of St. Joseph, at $557,240, and Williams & Works of Grand Rapids, at $225,000. The bids were reviewed by a panel consisting of Director of Public Works Tom MacDonald, Zoning Administrator Kristen Gundersen, Assistant City Engineer Alex Austin and Zebell.

Zebell said the panel determined that the low bidder did not understand the scope of the project and rejected that package.

During its interview, the Abonmarche group said that they believed construction could take up to 20 weeks, rather than the 16 weeks that was estimated in the city’s request for proposals. They indicated that the cost of administration typically runs $10,500 per week, so if the construction schedule runs over to their estimated timetable, it would cost an additional $42,000. That would still put their bid well below the estimate from DLZ, Zebell noted. DLZ officials did not raise any concerns about the city’s construction schedule.

Zebell praised both companies on their presentations and the level of service they proposed, and said Abonmarche had a competitive edge based on their high level of service and familiarity with city staff and their work methods.

Work on this project is slated to begin in April 2020 and be completed by Nov. 13. Zebell said they will likely work on Kingsley first, and start on the other streets after classes let out at nearby Lincoln Elementary.

Contact:, 932-0360, Twitter: @HPMatuszak