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A unique find beneath 168th Ave. road project

Alex Doty • Jul 20, 2017 at 1:00 PM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — A historic find buried beneath an old roadbed has been uncovered by crews working on the 168th Avenue reconstruction project this summer.

“On Monday, an approximately 50-foot section of ‘corduroy road’ was unearthed while installing the storm sewer on the 168th Avenue reconstruction project,” Grand Haven Township Manager Bill Cargo said.

A “corduroy road,” or “log road,” is a type of road made by placing logs perpendicular to the direction of the route over low or swampy areas, Cargo explained. The result was an improvement over impassable mud or dirt roads.

“But, it is ‘rough’ in the best of conditions, and was considered a hazard to horses due to shifting loose logs,” Cargo said. “This section of corduroy road was probably installed during the logging phase of our area’s history, circa 1855.”

Cargo noted that this type of road is known to have been used in Europe as early as 4,000 B.C., and it’s still used today in special circumstances, such as logging and/or temporary roads.

“A few corduroy road foundations that date back to the early 20th century still exist in North America,” he said.

One example is the Alaska Highway between Burwash Landing and Koidern, Yukon, Canada, Cargo noted.

“The good news is that there was only a small section of corduroy road, and the 168th Avenue reconstruction project was hardly hampered,” he said. “But, there will likely be a small, additional charge for disposal of these ‘organics.’”

The 168th Avenue work is part of the Grand Haven Township Downtown Development Authority’s TIF (tax increment financing) plan. The project is being paid for out of the township’s DDA Fund, and the Ottawa County Road Commission has also agreed to contribute $120,000 toward work.

The Township DDA has budgeted $1.02 million for the project. Earlier this year, township officials noted that prices for the reconstruction project came in about 7.2 percent less than the estimates.

The lowest bid, which came from Jackson-Merkey Contractors (JMC), was for $945,644, or $74,356 below the budget estimate.

Work will include road reconstruction with curb and gutter and storm sewer, an extension of sanitary sewer to the north, and non-motorized path overlay.

Project progress

“In general, JMC remains on schedule,” Cargo said. “Underground work based on their schedule at the (pre-construction) meeting was scheduled to be completed by the week of July 21. However, the relocation of the gas line will create a two- to three-week delay.”

Cargo noted that a conflict with the gas main at three storm sewer catch basins on the east side of the road, on the northern portion of the project, requires Michigan Gas Utilities to relocate approximately 600 feet of gas line in the next couple of weeks.

Jackson-Merkey is currently completing work on the storm sewer portion of the project.

“Sanitary sewer is complete, including the air testing of the sewer,” Cargo said. “The pump station has been set and internal piping completed. JMC is awaiting Consumers Energy to set the new electrical transformer so that the station can be switched over.”

Additionally, the water main cut-in and stubs are completed.

“There have been a couple of incidents of vehicles entering the construction area and damaging items,” Cargo said. “One involved a waste hauler damaging the discharge line on the dewatering pump. Another was when a commercial vehicle hit a regulator on the gas main after entering the site.”

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