CADILLAC — Yes, city officials are aware just how bad Chestnut Street's condition is at the current moment.
They just can't do anything about it ... at least not for a little while.
An unscientific online Cadillac News poll found that most respondents — 35% — believe of all the streets in Cadillac, Chestnut Street is in most need of major repairs or reconstruction.
The road — which was last reconstructed almost 30 years ago in 1991 — is crisscrossed with asphalt patches, many of which get washed away in the spring, creating massive potholes and craters that have to be repatched over and over again.
Cadillac Director of Finances Owen Roberts said Chestnut is among several streets in the city that are beyond minor fixes such as patching or overlays.
Although he agrees Chestnut is among the very worst of the worst, due to the scope of that project, it likely won't be replaced until spring of 2022, at the earliest. Rebuilding the road is expected to cost upwards of $1 million — money the city simply does not have right now.
Next year, however, Roberts said they expect to receive a $375,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Roberts said they alternate with the Wexford County Road Commission and Cadillac-Wexford Transit Authority on receiving this grant, and their turn is coming up.
The $375,000 grant won't be enough to pay for the entire project, so Roberts said they plan to cover the rest using money available in the major streets fund and through a $2 million bond they intend to take out for road work.
This will be the second bond the city's taken out in the last several years, with one for $3.3 million taken out in 2016 to pay for completion of the Plaza at Cadillac Commons, as well as some other street projects.
Roberts said the city over the last few years has been playing catch-up on a lot of road work, which fell by the wayside following major cuts from the state in the amount of funding they provide for street improvements.
Instead of doing complete rebuilds, which were necessary, Roberts said they've been doing a lot of preventative maintenance and Band-Aid fixes in an attempt to increase the lifespan of the roads.
"We just can't fix them anymore," Roberts said. "Delaying these projects doesn't eliminate the need for them. They are in dire need of replacement."
Cadillac isn't the only municipality that is struggling with not having enough resources to properly maintain roadways, which is why Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently proposed a 45 cent gas tax increase to raise money to go toward Michigan's transportation infrastructure.
Roberts is conflicted about this proposal and others like it that would raise taxes to pay for roads because many people already are struggling and adding yet another tax is not ideal.
"But ... we just need more funding," Roberts said. "We are very limited in our options to provide more funding to build (and maintain) roads. It will be interesting to see what the legislature does."
Roberts said they expect to receive $900,000 for "major street" projects and $300,000 for "local street" projects next fiscal year from the state. Major and local streets are differentiated based on traffic levels and other factors. This money is provided by Act 51 and also is used to cover routine road maintenance.
Besides Chestnut, other streets mentioned more than once by respondents taking the Cadillac News survey were Evart, Lester, Carmel and Whaley.
Portions of Carmel and Evart streets are scheduled to be reconstructed during the next fiscal year, which begins in July.
Other streets on deck to have sections replaced during the next fiscal year are Aldrich, Mason, Crippen, West Bremer and Simons.
Roberts said the city should have funds on hand to pay for the West Bremer, Mason and Carmel street projects but the other roadwork will have to be covered primarily through bond proceeds.
While all these roads are torn up, crews also will replace underground water and sewer utilities.
Coordinating the replacement of roads with underground utilities is an important consideration when planning which road projects will be undertaken any given year, Roberts said.
This enables the city to complete two projects in one go, as opposed to tearing up a decent road just to get to the utilities.
Roberts said the utilities projects will be covered by the water and sewer fund, which is money collected from customer service charges.
Due to extremely high demand for construction crews this summer, Robert said it's likely the projects scheduled in the next fiscal year won't be bid out until fall, with construction taking place in the spring.