Improvements planned for GumwoodPublished 9:34am Friday, October 16, 2009
By NORMA LERNER
Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS – Motorists in Cass County will have a safer road to travel next year when plans are finalized in Milton Township for improvements to Gumwood Road. The intersection of Gumwood Road and Redfield Street is one of the busiest intersections in Cass County with a traffic count of 7,000 vehicles going through there a day. The intersection is a corridor to Indiana to a large shopping mall, subdivisions and to employment areas.
Contrary to rumors that a roundabout will be built at the intersection to ease the traffic flow, there are no plans for that type of configuration, but instead two curves on Gumwood Road to the Indiana border will be realigned.
On Thursday during a meeting of the Cass County Road Commission, the board approved for Chief Engineer Joseph Bellina III to quickly arrange with a design firm to access stimulus funds before a November deadline. It will allow for road commission Manager Louis Csokasy to sign a contract with the firm not to exceed $35,000.
Bellina explained the road has been under consideration for improvements for a long time; however, a property owner along Gumwood Road does not want the road moved any closer to his house and there is no time for an eminent domain procedure. So, he said, the road will follow the right-of-way where it is. He said there are two curves and the road commissioners have looked at safety issues on one of the sharp curves.
“It’s banked too much. There’s no transition run off there. That’s the reason it is a safety problem.”
Bellina said the intersection of Redfield Street and Gumwood Road doesn’t lend itself to a roundabout because the intersection is too far apart where Gumwood crosses Redfield and continues to U.S. 12.
There have been a couple of rollovers at the curve, and old tree scars indicate where automobiles have hit a tree at the curve. He said the speed limit will be lowered in the area also.
Csokasy said he went to a Milton Township meeting and asked the township for three options about how to improve the intersection. “They (township) elected not to provide input. We now are in process of determining what the best solution will be and will execute that.”
In other road improvements, Bellina said the Redfield Street bridge in Ontwa Township is slated to have repairs from high water erosion completed soon, possibly in two to three weeks. The bridge has been closed since June. The guardrails were also deteriorated and are being delivered next Wednesday. They will be extended 75 feet off of each corner of the bridge, he said. Bridge inspectors were expected on Thursday.
Road Commission Chairman LeRoy Krempec said the bridge is “gorgeous, great.” He said he couldn’t see where the department of environment quality would have any problems with what’s been done. “You did a nice job,” he told Bellina. “When the people see it they will be taken aback a little bit. It will be done right. Hopefully the chief inspector will not have a problem with it. All good things take time,” he said.
Csokasy reported that the road commission will continue looking for a global positioning service since the one that was on trial for tracking trucks didn’t meet expectations to track travel time versus work time. “We will keep looking.”
Csokasy also reported there were about 1,000 requests for service in a year’s time for pothole repairs, dead deer pickup, mailbox repairs, weeds and snow removal. Last week alone during high winds there were 39 trees removed from the roads before most people got out of bed. He said the commission is working hard to service these requests and get them done in seven days.