Major 131 reconstruction coming to Schoolcraft

Look for construction signs on and near US-131 next year.

By Rob Peterson

Major reconstruction of US-131 through Schoolcraft is planned during 2022, if state finances permit. Village staff described the project to council members at a December meeting.

The project will begin at M219/Marcellus Road and run through town and up to the U Avenue/Shaver Road intersection north of the village limits. The project is intended to improve traffic flow and safety. Key elements include left turn signals at Lyon Street and a redesign of the way traffic enters 131 from Shaver Road.

The signal at 131 and U Avenue has already been updated as part of the project.

Other planned safety improvements include an extension of sidewalks and a reconstruction of the railroad intersection near South Street; a narrowing of some driveways leading on to the highway; and elimination of the southbound merge lane near U Avenue.

Council members asked Village Manager Cheri Lutz about providing windbreaks to prevent snow drifting across the highway. Lutz indicated that she would discuss the matter at her next meeting with Michigan Department of Transportation officials.

Since the center of 131 will be torn up, council member Kirk Bergland suggested it would be good timing to install a sewer main, if that project is approved.

Another report to the council came from Mike Presta from the engineering firm of Prein & Newhoff. He presented information about funds from the State of Michigan under a new Drinking Water Asset Management Grant program.

The grant will provide money for the Village to assess its water supply lines to determine where lead pipes exist, and to put together a plan for replacing them. The maximum grant for a community the size of Schoolcraft is $1 million, and it does not require a local match. The council authorized the staff to apply for the grant.

In other action, the council approved a “bonus” to staff amounting to 1.5% of each staff member’s salary. It also set the village garage sale dates for May 21 and 22, 2021.

The council also set aside approximately $2,000 to support Eagles Nest, an organization that provides food for families in need. In 2020, the organization provided food for 70 children in the Schoolcraft area, according to a report from Jill Strake. Village support comes in the form of quarterly payments that cover utilities.

Staff reported on the matching gift card program. The council purchased gift cards to area businesses and sold them to the public for half price. The purpose was to drive sales at local businesses at the end of a difficult year.

The Village sold 47 of the 66 available gift cards on the first day, selling out their inventory of cards from seven local businesses. Staff was grateful to the support that residents provided to local merchants.

Lutz reported that there is an opening on the Planning Commission. This is a vital position to fill, as the Village is in the final phase of a rezoning process. She asked any resident interested to contact her.

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