June 25, 2008
Marathon adjusts to road project
Residents say roadwork has posed some inconveniences in village
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Despite having no sidewalks, Doris and Pete Merihew walk their dog, Oliver, along Main Street in Marathon Tuesday morning. Doris Merihew said the construction and lack of sidewalks has not stopped them from their daily walk to downtown from their home.
MARATHON — Local residents say they are glad the state’s $3 million project to rebuild Main Street is finally taking place, but acknowledge the work comes with inconveniences.
The project being done by Suit-Kote will widen Route 221, add more parking and improve the road’s infrastructure. Route 221 is Main Street in the village.
Over the last month, crews have dug up parts of Main Street, relocated water lines, removed sidewalks, and undertaken other work that has restricted traffic to one lane.
On Tuesday, workers removed dirt from the site of a demolished home on the south side of Route 221 to the east of the southbound Interstate 81 onramp.
Crews generally work between 6:30 a.m. and 4 or 5 p.m., Xtra Mart Manager Priscilla Robinson said. During that time they typically block off the Main Street entrance to her store.
That isn’t a big deal, she said, with other entrances still open, but their work has posed other problems, including shutting off her water for an hour Tuesday when a water main was replaced.
“We didn’t have water for an hour, but at least it wasn’t a busy time of day,” she said.
Robinson said she didn’t know ahead of time the water would be off, but crews generally do a good job of letting the business know what they are doing.
Suit-Kote spokesman Brian Renna said the crews try to make that a priority.
“We usually notify businesses either by flier or mail or in person about everything that’ll have a rather large impact,” Renna said.
Other Main Street businesses confirmed crews generally keep businesses posted about their work, and are polite.
For much of Tuesday, Main Street traffic was restricted to one lane, and the intersection of Route 11 and Main Street was controlled by a crewmember. Some vehicles sat waiting for at least five minutes.
Tracy Reynolds, who was helping out staff in Juniek Gifts-Candies on Main Street, said some days it will take her husband, Daryl, 20 minutes to drive about two miles from his job on Route 11 to their Mill Street home for his lunch break.
“I walk because it’s a pain,” she said about going places.
Others, like 16-year-old Adam Underwood, take Brink Street as a short cut if crews are working on Main Street.
Another challenge for drivers is parking. There is temporarily no parking along much of the south side of Main Street, though there will be more spots than before once the project is completed.
Peck Memorial Library Director Mary Frank said the lack of parking has reduced the number of people visiting the library.
Certain people interviewed, including Lapeer resident Pam Craig, said they now tend to park behind Alliance Bank or at the Marathon Christian Academy now that school is out for the summer.
But a bigger problem, Frank said, is the safety of walkers, especially elderly walkers, on the stones and gravel temporarily replacing the sidewalk.
“For them it’s very unsafe,” Frank said. “One lady fell and had to be carried away.”
Another woman fell in front of Juniek Gifts-Candy, owner June Rios said, and bruised herself.
“We’re yelling at kids now, telling them to walk instead of run,” she said.
Renna said he wishes Suit-Kote had been notified about the women falling — the company likes to keep track of that kind of thing. Nonetheless, the temporary sidewalk it is using is standard for the industry.
He said Suit-Kote advises people to exercise caution any time they are going through the work zone.
The new sidewalk will be narrower than the previous one, which some people were disappointed about Tuesday, that and the fact maple trees along the south side of Main Street had to be removed to make way for the road widening.
Those trees symbolize Marathon, many said, with one new one being planted each year.
“It was a sad day to see that chipper,” said Jen Stuart, a receptionist at Family Health Network on Main Street.
Loud noise and clouds of dirt are also a problem, said Audrey Hamilton, 18, Rachael Hammond, 10, and Nichole Hammond, 12, who were visiting Peck Memorial library Tuesday with Hamilton’s mother, Laura.
But everyone seemed to agree Tuesday the inconveniences are worth it. The project will be completed next year.
“It sounds like it’s going to be really nice once it’s done,” Stuart said.
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