Back to gravel? Pothole patching just won’t cut it on some Kent Co. roads

Posted at 10:25 PM, Mar 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-27 23:26:31-04

LOWELL, Mich. -- The wild spring freeze-thaw cycle we've seen in Michigan has wreaked serious havoc on some stretches of road.

In Lowell, Pratt Lake Road between 52nd and 76th street is closed to thru traffic. The plan is to turn the already crumbled asphalt back to gravel beginning next week, according to Jerry Byrne with the Kent County Road Commission.

"It’s more than just a pothole, we have sections of road--500 feet-plus long--that have just deteriorated to nothing and basically turned themselves almost back to gravel already," Byrne said.

Sections of Pratt Lake Road, about half a mile in all, will be pulverized, ground up and returned to gravel, at least temporarily.

“You’ve got to remember, a lot of these roads were constructed in the 1950s and 60s so they’ve really outlived their useful life and quite frankly need to be rebuilt," he said. "But jurisdictions do not have the funding.”

Byrnes said it will look more like a patchwork quilt-type fix since the entire road will not be be pulverized, just the worst sections.

In Byron Township, turning sections of 104th Street between Burlingame and Clyde Park Avenues back to gravel is also being considered, Byrne said.

The two stretches of rural road, which are lightly traveled throughout the day, could be the first of many more in Kent County to receive a similar treatment.

The gravel section of roads will ideally be repaved with asphalt by this summer.

Any move to permanently turn roads back to gravel is still one that is not favored by the Kent County Road Commission.

“At this point we’re going to stay away from (permanent gravel), but in the future I can’t guarantee that for folks because if it gets to a point where you can’t safely maintain the blacktop road," Byrne said. "You really don’t have a lot of choice.”

To report a pothole to the Kent County Road Commission, you can go through their website.