Cold doesn’t stop W. MI construction delayed by dispute

Kent County

GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Bitter cold and snowy conditions aren’t stopping construction workers on West Michigan roads.

At noon on Thursday, it was 27 degrees as crews paved Cottonwood Drive in Jenison.

“It’s been a long spring, summer, fall and now (it’s) kind of creeping into winter,” said Alex Doty, communications administrator for the Ottawa County Road Commission.

Doty says crews started clearing for the Cottonwood project last February. He says it likely would have already been done if not for the summer labor dispute between Operating Engineers Local 324, which represents heavy equipment operators, and more than 500 construction company owners comprising the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association.

John Richard from the Michigan Department of Transportation says the labor dispute also pushed back the project on northbound US-131 between 10 Mile and 14 Mile roads in Kent County, near Rockford.

“This is unprecedented. Guys are working way late in the season and this is what happens in Michigan,” said Richard.

In Michigan, late November and early December means cold temperatures and snow, which also delay projects, especially when it comes to paving.

“The spec book says (it must be) 25 degrees and rising,” said Richard.

“We wouldn’t be out here today if we thought it was something we couldn’t do. We’re monitoring that. We have quality checks on all the material we’re putting down,” Doty said of the Cottonwood paving project.

MDOT hopes to finish US-131 next month.

“Hopefully this will be a nice Christmas gift and we’ll have traffic open by then,” said Richard.

As for the Cottonwood project:

“Our contractor working on this project has indicated they hope to get this finished this year. Whether or not that comes to fruition, that remains to be seen,” Doty said.

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