City to spend more than $850,000 on Jockey Alley reconstruction
A firm has been selected by the city of Mount Pleasant to plan the extensive reconstruction of downtown’s Jockey Alley.
Fleis & Vandenbrink Engineering, Inc. of Midland was selected to engineer the project at a cost of no more than $51,000.
The total cost of the entire project will be much larger, with the city spending more than $850,000 for the overhaul of Jockey Alley, also known as Parking Lot 2.
The deteriorating conditions of Jockey Alley, located south of the county building and north of Broadway Street between Main and University streets, called for a long-term solution after more than 20 years with no major improvements.
“The surface of the alley and parking lot are at the end of their life cycle. They’re just wore out and need to be replaced,” Director of Public Works Roger Rousse said. “When roads and lots get older, the cost to maintain them go up, and when you’re spending considerable resources on fixes, that’s an indicator to just totally replace. This is a total reconstruction.”
A grant of $583,000 from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation will cover the majority of the cost, while $287,500 from the city’s capital improvement plan will cover the rest.
Downtown Development Director Michelle Sponseller said when the city had the Main and Mosher streets roundabout installed, excavators found the base of Parking Lot 2 had lost its integrity.
“There are different layers of gravel, sand and then asphalt on top. The base is bad and sinks in certain spots,” Sponseller said. “You can see potholes and patches we’ve done, but ultimately with a bad base you have to pull everything out.”
A major part of the project will be burying the utility wires. Rousse said this will be a big change, and one of the most difficult parts of the reconstruction.
“I believe there are six different utilities with overhead wires,” Rousse said. “Our biggest challenge and biggest expense is burying those and reconnecting them to the businesses.”
Another issue will be looking at the storm sewer under the lot, which Sponseller said also hasn’t been addressed in some time.
The storm sewer runs directly into the Chippewa River, Sponseller said.
“That’s a horrifying thought,” she said. “We need to look at good ecological ways to filter water before it goes into river. We’re looking at maybe layers of sand to filter impurities so it’s already cleaned naturally by the time it reaches the river.”
Other updates for the lot include LED lighting, a dumpster enclosure, increasing universal access and an electric car charging station, Sponseller said.
Rousse said there is no scheduled date for construction to start, but the city would like the project to be completed by the Fourth of July, though it could be bumped back if more time is needed.
The reconstruction will be a huge benefit to downtown, Sponseller said.
“It’s the most used public parking spot downtown. Max and Emily’s does 60 percent of their business through that back alley,” Sponseller said. “It’s vital that the alley is well-maintained, looks good and performs well.”
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