SAGINAW (WJRT) -
(04/23/14) - A controversial road construction project in Saginaw County was scheduled to start in a few weeks - but it has been put on hold.
Some residents didn't want Miller Road in Thomas Township widened, claiming it would cause more traffic and safety problems.
Those concerns didn't cause the postponement. It's being delayed because of the main problem for the state's worsening road conditions - lack of money.
"It's still going to be a priority project for us," said Joe Wisniewski, of the Saginaw County Road Commission.
For now, the Miller Road project in Thomas Township, west of Saginaw, has been postponed.
Wisniewski, of the Saginaw County Road Commission, says bids on the project earlier this month set the price tag around three million dollars, about 700 hundred thousand more than was budgeted for the work. He says there are a couple of reasons the bids came in higher than expected.
The economy is slowing turning around, so material prices are increasing. There was also a tight time frame for the contractors to complete the work, and they had a lot of money on there to expedite the project," Wisniewski said.
News of the postponement was welcomed by Miller Road resident Jim Haufe. The sign in front of his home pretty much explains how he felt about the proposed project.
"I hope it's not just postponed, but I am ecstatic that at least it is," he said.
Haufe says he wrote letters to state legislators, and even to Gov. Rick Snyder to explain why he and his neighbors opposed work they consider a misuse of public money. While the road commission said it would alleviate traffic congestion, Haufe says widening would have caused safety problems.
"In terms of traffic flow, there is no problem," he said.
The drainage system in the area was slated to be improved as part of the road project, but that will have to wait too.
"I'm hoping it;s a permanent solution, if you need to fix the drains, that's good, but just don't make it a safety issue and widen the road," Haufe said.
The road commission says it will have to wait for funding to become available before the project can be rescheduled.