Pandemic challenges causing road construction delays

Kalamazoo County

KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Road construction projects in West Michigan are experiencing some delays caused by the pandemic.

Elli Blonde, a spokesperson for the Road Commission of Kalamazoo County, says material and labor shortages are impacting improvements and repairs.

“We’re experiencing global supply issues at this point,” Blonde said. “I can’t necessarily credit it all to the pandemic.”

A project that will see some amount of impact is a section of Nichols Road in Kalamazoo Township, south of Ravine Road.

The road commission was expecting to replace the traffic signal in the final stage of the project in August, but work may not begin on the signal until November because of delays in the supply of steel masts that support the lights.

“Steel is pretty expensive right now, so that ties into our mast arms for our traffic signals,” Blonde said.

The roadwork should still be completed by the end of August or in September, which is close to being on schedule for the original Aug. 31 completion target.

Construction on Nichols Road in Kalamazoo Township on June 9, 2021.

Longtime Nichols Road resident Bob King says the road is in need of repair and he understands if some parts of the project require a longer wait.

“I don’t think it’s been done since we’ve been here. Maybe just patching here and there, but that never really solves the problem,” King said.

A shortage of workers with commercial driver’s licenses has meant difficulties in getting supplies as well.

“It’s not even just road commissions. We work with a lot of contractors or subcontractors, things like that. Labor is a shortage right now,” Blonde said.

Brooklyn Hatfield with Mulder’s Landscaping Supply says customers are finding their way to their store, even with the Nichols Road closure.

“A lot of customers will come in and they’re like, it’s a little bit harder for us to get here with the road construction and everything, but it’s just an inconvenience really. I mean they have to go an extra mile or so to go around it,” Hatfield said.

Hatfield says the new road will be worth it even with some delays.

“Having that pavement and making it look nice and everything will definitely be a nice thing for our customers and even our employees,” Hatfield said.

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