Big changes are coming to Sherman Boulevard.
During state lawmakers’ marathon lame-duck session last week, legislators awarded the city of Muskegon Heights $3 million for a substantial redesign and reconstruction of Sherman Boulevard—the city’s busiest street and one of the most traveled roads in Muskegon County. The funding is part of a $1.3 billion supplemental budget passed by the state House of Representatives and state Senate in the early morning hours of Friday, Dec. 21. The supplemental legislation will have to land its final stamp of approval from Gov. Rick Snyder before the end of the year.
The state funding is expected to pay for roadway improvements, public utility upgrades for future business investment, lighting and landscaping along the corridor, and blight abatement in the boulevard’s commercial sections.
“It’s going to revamp that whole area with upgrades throughout and make it more business friendly,” state Rep. Terry Sabo (D-Muskegon) said in an interview with the Muskegon Times.
Proposed by the city of Muskegon Heights staff for consideration by state lawmakers, the Sherman Boulevard project too garnered support from Sabo, outgoing state Sen. Goeff Hansen (R-Hart), and the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, which acted as an advocate with the governor’s office and the legislature.
“I am pleased we have secured state funding to assist our local communities with making critical infrastructure improvements along Sherman Boulevard,” Hansen said in a prepared statement. “These funds will assist in attracting new investments and make our neighborhoods safer.”
This $3 million is part of the 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 road improvements throughout the city. With the funding from the millage, Muskegon Heights was able to impact 26 blocks of residential streets this past year. The city expects to do the same in 2019, Muskegon Heights City Manager Jake Eckholm said in a recent interview with the Muskegon Times.
Muskegon Heights too just landed a $250,000 state Transportation Economic Development Fund grant, which the city will use to repair and improve Park Street.
“We could not be more pleased and grateful for these funds,” Eckholm said in a prepared statement, referring to the $3 million. The city manager submitted this project to the state on behalf of the city.
“Over 12,000 cars travel Sherman Boulevard in our city limits, and we see this as an opportunity to improve the experience on our busiest corridor for residents, commuters and visitors alike,” Eckholm continued.
Bidding and work on the Sherman Boulevard project is expected to begin in 2019.