Tom Tolen /

With the $6.5 million downtown Streetscape project the city of Brighton's number one priority, one would think other projects in town had to take a back seat. However, that’s not been the case, according to Department of Public Services Director Marcel Goch.

The two most significant projects are one to improve Brighton’s streets via a voter-approved millage and a related project to fix sidewalks that are in disrepair and to extend sidewalks where there are gaps in the pedestrian pathways.

In 2019, Brighton voters approved a 2.5-mill, 7-year issue to improve the city’s streets. The tax issue is expected to raise at least $1.15 million per year. The purpose of the road millage is to make upgrades on the streets in the city that were in the worst condition, plus those that were in fair condition and it was felt that improvements would lengthen their usable life, thus preventing the need for a complete reconstruction in a few years.

According to Goch, the city is nearly done with the planned street work for this year. However, this week they have been finishing up the intersection at Walnut and Fourth St., which will bring to completion the Northwest Neighborhood Project. The remaining work includes some smoothing out of the rough CSX Railroad crossing, although Goch says due to the limitations on how close the work can get to the tracks it will continue to be a somewhat rough crossing. However, Goch says the city is negotiating with CSX to see if the railroad would be willing to further smooth out the roughness.

The street millage funds were used for two main projects this year: the ATF Street Project, which includes Alpine Trail, South Third and Fairway Trails, and the Northwest Neighborhood Project. That particular project included State, Chestnut, Walnut, Center, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh streets. “Initially," Goch said, “the Northwest Neighborhood Project was supposed to take three years, which would have meant work being done this past summer, but the contractor was able to get the lion’s share of the project done last year. This made it easier for residents and visitors to get around town during our current Streetscape project. “

The ATF project was a mill and overlay project that included several thousand feet of curb replacement and manhole rebuilds. Mill and overlay, in infrastructure parlance, involves removing 1-2 inches of existing asphalt and replacing it with new pavement over the existing base layer of asphalt. The resulting surface extends the life of the street by many years.

The Northwest Neighborhood Project was a full rebuilding of the infrastructure that included a new asphalt street surface, water and sanitary sewer line replacement and installation of storm sewers where there had been none previously. It also included curb and gutter installation with sidewalks where there had not been any before.

Goch says the Streetscape project has not caused any delays in the street work, other than at Fourth and Walnut. He adds that the DPW will take a look at potholes that exist on other city streets to see if they can get temporary repairs at least until next year’s street work commences.

The city has also promised to fix the city’s sidewalks — both extending sidewalks in areas where there are gaps and repairing existing sidewalks that present a safety hazard. The city had planned to move forward with the project this year, but applied for a state grant and was awarded $329,000, which will be added to the $400,000 the city had already budgeted for the program.

But because additional steps needed to be taken to use the state funds, it was decided to push the sidewalk project back to next spring “so we could make sure we had everything in order to receive the grant,” Goch said. He said the engineering has already been completed for certain sidewalk projects, such as the Flint Road extension between Williamsen and Spring Mountain Drive, and Williamsen Drive from Flint Road to Nelson St. The project will be put out for bid in February, with the work taking place during the spring and summer of 2024. Additionally, the sidewalk removal and replacement program will resume next spring, with the focus on areas leading to downtown.