Bicyclists raising funds to help repave section of Huron River Drive
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Editor's note: Roy Townsend,Â Washtenaw County Road CommissionÂ highway engineer, said the fundraising effort has met it's goal ofÂ $30,000 to help repave a portion of Huron River Drive.Â
Don Broadway compares bicycling onÂ Huron River Drive to “driving through a minefield.”
“It’s too dangerous to ride. I personally will not ride certain sections,” said Broadway, chair of the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society. “You fall off a bike when you’re going 15, 20 miles an hour, you’re breaking a collar bone ... or you could be killed.”
Roy Townsend, Washtenaw County Road CommissionÂ highway engineer, said two repaving projects are to begin on scenic Huron River Drive betweenÂ Ann Arbor and Dexter in late August.Â
The first project, repaving 2.5 miles of Huron River Drive between Zeeb and Tubbs roads, is expected to cost $400,000. The second project, repaving a 1.01-mile stretch between Wagner and Maple roads, is expected to cost $200,000, according to Townsend.
Townsend said both projects will be funded by a combination of federal, Washtenaw County Road Commission and Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation funds.Â
But to repave the 0.77-mile gap between Tubbs and Wagner roads will require an additional $90,000.
That’s where Broadway and others come in.
Broadway said the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society, the Ann Arbor Velo Club and others in the community are working to raise $30,000 by the end of the month. The Road Commission has said it will “double match” funds raised by the community—meaning if the groups raise $30,000, the Road Commission will contribute $60,000 to reach the end goal of $90,000.
The Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society will also match its members' donations dollar-for-dollar until it reaches a total of $5,000 in donations.
Ted Green, CEO of Greenview Data Inc. and member of the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society, and his wife Debbie Green have helped lead the community fundraising effort, which began early this month and raised $12,000 within the first week.
"(Huron River Drive) is the most used bicycle road in Washtenaw County, by far," Green said. "It's an important feature of Washtenaw County. It's an important road in terms of making the county and the city of Ann Arbor a place people want to move to."
Suzy Engleberg rode about 15 miles on her bike Wednesday afternoon. The Ann Arbor woman, who has been cycling for about 15 years, said she used to ride Huron River Drive, but now prefers to stick to Whitmore Lake Road.
"To be honest with you, I have not ridden (Huron River Drive) in a long time," Engleberg said after finishing her daily bike ride. "It's not friendly to bikers at all. Ann Arborites have for years kept wondering, 'Why can't we get a better road?'"
Green said some potential donors "feel conflicted about paying for something they feel their taxes should cover."
"A lot of people don't understand that the only source of funds (for roads in the state) is the state gasoline tax, and Michigan has been unable and unwilling to raise that," he said. "The county does not get any money for road repair through the tax system, and that is the reason that Michigan has some of the worst roads in the country."
Green said because the stretch between Tubbs and Wagner roads is in such poor repair, federal funds can't be used to repave it.
"The irony is that...the section we are trying to (repair) has to be ground-up, leveled and repaired. It requires more than a simple repave. And because of the added effort, the federal funds were not available," he said. "The last time there was repaving in that section was about 10 years ago."
The section of Huron River Drive within the Ann Arbor city limits was repaved a couple of years ago.
Broadway said despite the potholes, Huron River Drive offers a scenic view and a great place to spot wildlife.
“It is probably one of the most premier cycling and jogging roads in this corner of the state,” he said. “It’s a gorgeous, gorgeous ride.”
The Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society is offering a free one-year membership to any non-member who makes a donation, Broadway said, adding a suggested minimum donation is $50.
Lucas Wall, vice president of the Ann Arbor Velo Club, said repaving the "very rough" Huron River Drive will benefit both cyclists and motorists.
"Cyclists are really interested in helping improve the roads," Wall said. "It keeps the roads safer."
Anyone interested in donating is asked to write a check to the Washtenaw County Road Commission and send it to the Ann Arbor Bicyle Touring Society, Attn: HRD Repaving, P.O. Box 1585, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. For more information, e-mail Ted Green at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heather Lockwood is a reporter for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at email@example.com or 734-623-2536.