Niles breaks down costs for closing Main Street for car shows

Published 9:15 am Monday, April 18, 2016

After the Niles City Council rejected an application for a car show in downtown Niles last week, citing cost of closing roads as one of a few concerns, many residents questioned why it costs so much to block off Main Street for a few hours each week.

Joe Ray, the city’s director of Public Works, has provided the Daily Star with a breakdown of the costs.

Ray said the estimate he prepared of just more than $9,700 for 13 weeks of closures is based on 2 1/2 hours to set up the required signage and two hours for its removal.

“The time includes from when we leave the street division to the time that we return, port to port,” he said.

Another factor, he said, is street division employees work from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during the summer months, meaning 1 1/2 hours of the setup time would occur when employees are on overtime.

Per week, labor (including fringe benefits) would cost $407.94 a week, while the equipment cost (including overhead) would tack on another $176.22 per week. That brings the weekly total for labor and equipment to $584.16, he said.

In addition, Ray said the department would need to purchase an additional $2,125 worth of barricades and traffic cones in order to provide proper signage for the event.

Traffic cones cost approximately $20 and the city would need 25.

The type of barricades needed cost approximately $325 each and the city would need five, Ray said. Adding those two costs together equals $2,125.

By dividing that number ($2,125) by the number of events (13), Ray got a weekly cost of barricades and cones of $163.46 per event.

Adding that total ($163.46) to the weekly cost of labor and equipment ($584.16), produces a total weekly cost estimate of $747.62.

“There are a lot of variable and elements, but I am certain the numbers are very close,” he said.

Ray said these things are needed in order to be in full compliance with the Michigan Department of Transportation’s rules regarding road closures. While the downtown portion of Main Street (Front Street to Fifth Street) is under the city’s jurisdiction, Ray said some of the required advanced signage would need to be placed in MDOT’s right of way, which requires filing an advanced notice to MDOT for permission.

“Traffic control had become a real challenge and unfortunately and expensive one,” he said.

During the Niles City Council’s regular meeting April 11, Rex Carpenter sought approval from the council to put on a car show, called Forever Young Car Cruisers, on Main Street in downtown Niles. The shows would occur each Wednesday evening from June 1 to Aug. 24.

The show would replace the popular Bring It Cruise In car shows that attracted more than 1,000 people each week to downtown Niles for the past several years. The organizer of that show decided not to produce it again this year.

Carpenter also requested that the city waive the fee for closing the roads, meaning the city would incur the cost.

The city council rejected the request by a vote of 7 to 1, citing concerns over cost and that Carpenter did not get sufficient proof that downtown merchants are in support of the show.

Council members did indicate they would be willing to consider a revised plan.

Carpenter said he would work on obtaining letters of support and present a new plan for the car show at the council’s next meeting, April 25.