Rough riding

Physical Plant works to fix campus roads and parking lots

Potholes like this one can be found in the roads and parking lots on Ferris’ campus. Physical Plant is working on completing walkway and road maintenance. Photo by: Hunter Pariseau | Torch Photographer

The roads and sidewalks on Ferris’ campus begin to show wear and tear quickly because of Michigan’s often harsh winters, which can cause problems for commuters on campus.

“There’s a lot of roads and parking lots around here that could definitely use some work,” Ferris dental hygiene sophomore Lauren Densmore said. “I know the Automotive Center’s parking lot is really bad. I have to avoid some giant potholes whenever I drive over there.”

Ferris Physical Plant provides maintenance to the campus’ roads and walkways annually. This includes filling in potholes in campus roads and parking lots, as well as debris removal.

“There are some areas that definitely need some work,” Densmore said.

“Whenever it rains, those giant potholes get filled with water, and I can see that being a problem.”

The Physical Plant typically repaves roads and parking lots during summer break. They completed a project to repave several walkways and roads on Ferris’ campus with a budget of $1.6 million in 2018. As of February, the Physical Plant is working on completing its annual walkway and road maintenance.

“I live in North Hall, which is brand new, so I don’t see many potholes there,” Ferris marketing freshman Meagan Tran said. “I don’t drive to class, but I do keep my car here on campus. I do think there should be something done if it’s causing problems for other people.”

Potholes are caused by heavy rain or snow, which seeps into the layer of soil underneath the pavement of roads and parking lots. The soil then freezes, which can push up the pavement above it. Once the soil beneath the pavement is weakened, it breaks apart easily due to the stress of heavy traffic. Potholes tend to appear much more often within Michigan because of the intense winters the state experiences. Heavy snowfall combined with melting snow create prime conditions for potholes to form.

Potholes and rough road conditions can do more than make driving uncomfortable. According to the Car Care Council, a non-profit motorist organization, hitting a pothole while driving a vehicle can cause damage to a vehicle’s steering and suspension, causing the vehicle to “bottom out” or hit the road beneath it. This can cause further damage to the underside of the vehicle.

Big Rapids and Mecosta County are working on fixing the city’s roads as well. Currently, the Mecosta County Road Commission plans to reconstruct 15 Mile Road and replace the bridge over Ryan Creek on New Millpond Road.