Major transportation grant paves the way for infrastructure improvements in Muskegon Heights

Park Street in Muskegon Heights is about to undergo big changes.

A $250,000 grant is paving the way for major street improvements in Muskegon Heights.

One of 10 communities across the state to be selected for a state Transportation Economic Development Fund grant, Muskegon Heights will use the money to repair and improve Park Street, from Sherman Boulevard to Hackley Avenue. Alongside the Michigan Department of Transportation grant, Muskegon Heights will provide an additional $82,000 from the city’s street funds to further repair Park Street,  from Sherman Boulevard to Broadway Avenue, Muskegon Heights City Manager Jake Eckholm said.

“It’s a big deal to get chosen” for the grant, Eckholm said.

Public Works Director Doug Kadzban and other Muskegon Heights city staff worked hard to apply for the grant, Eckholm emphasized. Set to be issued in 2020, the funding is expected to significantly improve a street that Eckholm noted is in “pretty rough shape.”

“It’s primarily used by a lot of our industrial users: Park Street Machine, Hurricane Power, Century Foundry are on Park Street,” the city manager said. “They have a lot of shipping needs. By improving this street, it will greatly increase their ability to ship their product.”

Century Foundry is one of the businesses in Muskegon Heights that will benefit from Park Street improvements.

Announced by state Rep. Terry Sabo (D-Muskegon) this week, the grant will allow Muskegon Heights to further intensify its focus on repairing infrastructure.

“As a former road commissioner of Muskegon County, I know how direly more road funding is needed in our local communities and sympathize with residents’ frustrations when that need is not properly addressed,” Sabo said in a prepared statement. “As a state representative, road funding continues to be a priority of mine, and I am very excited that Muskegon Heights was awarded this opportunity.”

“Well-maintained roads and infrastructure are one of the keys to an improved economy and overall quality of life, and this grant will go a long way in providing some much-needed relief to residents of the area,” Sabo continued.

This grant is part of Muskegon Heights government’s larger strategy to address a myriad issues with the city’s roads, including a streets millage passed in 2017. The millage raises between $470,000 and $500,000 annually for road repair, maintenance, and other improvements.

“We’re trying to inject a lot of impact into our street system,” said Eckholm. “We just completely reconstructed four blocks of Reynolds Street. We’ve impacted 26 blocks with millage dollars and expect to do the same next year.”

Come January or February, residents will get a chance to see the full impact of the millage on local streets in a “millage accountability report,” the city manager said.

Story by Anna Gustafson, the publisher and editor of Muskegon Times. Connect with Anna by emailing MuskegonTimes@gmail.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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