EMMETT TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Driving on ‘D’ Drive North is nerve-wracking for Karen Grohalski, she said. The road is covered with so many potholes in both lanes that she sometimes drives slowly up the flat middle to avoid damaging her tires and car.
“The holes are deep,” she said during an interview near the road. “There are a lot of blind hills on that road. So it’s, it’s very dangerous.”
In 2014, a few people from Grohalski’s neighborhood created a YouTube video showing just how pad the potholes were. They contacted FOX 17 about it, which led to a subsequent feature story. Thursday, they reached out again to report that nothing’s changed.
“It’s gotten progressively worse as time has gone by,” said Grohalski who’s lived in the area for 18 years. “It’s never been re-paved to the best of my memory.”
Grohalski said that ‘D’ Drive North is one of the main roads that people take to get to local shopping centers. The speed limit on that road is 45. However most drive under that.
“It’s horrific,” said Laurie Oleksa standing next to her son Danny who’s in a wheelchair. “We have a specialized van for him. And literally I can’t go 10 miles-an-hour on that road without concern that the lift is going to fall off the bottom of it.”
She said going up and down the potholes sometimes startle Danny and cause him to have seizures. She fears, like Grohalski, that an accident is going to happen or worse.
“My husband was actually killed on a Calhoun County road, riding his bike,” said neighbor Jane Harrington about the tragic event that happened three years ago. “His tire hit a pothole. He was thrown off his bike and into the path of a vehicle.”
Harrington was one of the many residents from the neighborhood who attended Township meetings about the road. She said they voiced their concerns and shared their own personal struggles officials from the county and Michigan Department of Transportation. They even voted on a millage to have ‘D’ Drive North paved. However, it didn’t pass.
“We absolutely share their frustration,” said Calhoun County Administrator/Controller Kelli Scott during an interview at the road commissions office . “Actually I live in Emmett Township not very far from there. And we are seeing the results of a lot of years of roads just deteriorating.”
Scott said the county listens to the needs of their residents. However since the millage didn’t pass, they resorted to patching up the potholes as best as they can. Safety, she said, is their top concern.
“That is our No. 1 summer activity,” she said about pothole patching. “Not only are we using a lot of our local labor and available trucks to pass the potholes every single day, weather-permitting. But this year and the last couple of years we have added contractors.”
She said the county offers an app called MiCCRD, which allows users to report a pothole when they come across one. The app's internal GPS pinpoints exactly where it is and sends its location to the county. However she said the best way to fix the potholes longterm is for the residents, township and county to join together and secure outside funding.
“If you look at Bedford Township, Pennfield Township, they both got road funding in place a couple of years ago and partnered with the county,” she said. “We went through and literally improved all of the local roads and they’re in much better shape.”
Scott said they’d like to see a similar plan or program in place for Emmett Township. The county is getting close to $900,000 from the state to help fix the roads this year. However, the township has to get money from a millage, or elsewhere, in order to fix D Drive North and others permanently.
“We will do our part as long as we can get that other source of funding,” Scott said.