Big Rapids renovation

Construction crews will repave streets and install new streetlights downtown

The city of Big Rapids will get a face-lift this summer with the Downtown Big Rapids Streetscape Project, which broke ground May 3.

Some of the enhancements include road construction with new pavement and curb, as well as new sidewalks in some areas. In addition, new LED streetlights, trees, and planter areas will be added. Pocket Park will be renovated as well and the remaining brick crosswalks downtown will be removed.

Roger Schneidt, Deputy Director of Public Works, said the merchants in the Downtown Business Association (DBA) began the planning process in 2006.

The project, undertaken by J. Ranck Electric, Inc., is scheduled to be completed on Sept. 1 and will cost just over $1 million. The decision passed almost unanimously by city commission members and the DBA to move forward with the project.

The primary area that will be renovated is on Michigan Avenue between Linden and Pine Streets. Construction began on the west side of North Michigan Avenue and will progress to the west side of South Michigan Avenue. The project will then move to the east side of South and North Michigan Avenue.

Areas of Michigan Avenue will be closed during the project, but the plan is to close only the section under construction.

“If the conditions are safe, the road will be open to traffic,” said Schneidt. “It will be closed at times for safety’s sake when the area gets too congested.”

The funding for the project is provided by three sources: $500,000 came from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) Vibrant Small Cities Initiative grant, $400,000 was provided by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Enhancement Program, and the remaining $150,500.64 was contributed by the City of Big Rapids Authority.

The Downtown Development Authority will reimburse the City’s contribution to the project.

Schneidt said meetings are tentatively scheduled once a week throughout the summer to provide the latest information about the project. He said the public is welcome to ask questions to representatives from engineering firm Wilcox Associates, as well as the project contractor. Information will also be periodically updated on, the city’s Web site.