Portland city officials celebrated Thursday the end of a much anticipated $706,000 road improvement project and the beginning of what they hope to be a lot of traffic on Cutler Road and an economic boost to the community of about 3,800 residents.
S. Tutt Gorman, city manager, who emceed the brief ribbon cutting ceremony on Cutler Road at Charlotte Highway, told about 60 people that it was a “special day,” in Portland. “I know a ribbon cutting for a road ceremony may not be the most exciting project in the world, but make no mistake, this is very exciting for all of us.”
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley called the nearly 1-mile stretch of new asphalt the “nicest road in Michigan.”
James E. Barnes, Portland’s mayor, said the “most striking development is how much use this road is going to get, going from virtually an untraveled,” two-track road to one that will get a lot more use as more people become aware of it. “I can’t wait to see the traffic studies from Day 1.”
The Rev. Daniel L. Stemen, pastor of the Portland Church of the Nazarene on Cutler Road, gave the blessing of the road. “I cannot tell you the blessing it is today to walk down this road,” he said. “… and not being shaken or have dust flying through windows and everything. We will be forever grateful for the city and everybody else who had a hand in making this possible.”
Gorman, Calley, Barnes and Stemen, who talked about the collaborative effort that pushed the project through, were guest speakers at the ribbon cutting. But many more sang the praise of the Cutler Road project.
“It’s very exciting … this place has waited so long for this,” said Michele Makley, executive vice president of Portland Federal Credit Union. “We’ve been here seven years in April and it’s just been a long time coming.
“We’re very happy to see it finally evolve. It’s a big deal to the people of Portland.”
The Cutler Road project included water and sewer improvements, curb and gutter, sidewalk on the south side and asphalt pavement between Grand River Avenue and Charlotte Highway.
The project was funded in part by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Portland’s city income tax fund, which is dedicated for paving, curb and gutter, sidewalks, street lights and related water and sewer infrastructure improvements.
The Cutler Road improvement project started this spring, however, initial planning began back in 2009 when it was a dirt road. While Fleis & VandenBrink (F&V) engineers worked with the city to secure funding, bituminous millings were put down on the one-mile stretch of Cutler Road in 2010 to help keep the dust down for residences and businesses in the area. Funding was secured in 2014.
“A lot of work, preparation and planning went into this,” Gorman noted. “It really highlights government collaboration and partnership with the county, the township as well as the state and federal governments.”
Gorman said the improvements have made the quality of life in Portland much better and could be a big economic boost to the city that has about 53 acres of undeveloped property near the corner of Grand River and Cutler roads.
“I don’t like making that presumption, but I think it’s hard to deny that it’s not the likelihood,” Gorman said. “There’s a lot of potential real estate that is poised for development.”
Gorman said the 2010 census helped secure Federal Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds from the Small Urban Program.
“We may be small in population, but we pack a mighty punch when it comes to our services,” he said. “We’re very fortunate.”
Barnes said the project took its time for good reason as it waited for the best funding to be put in place. He also praised Stemen and his congregation for being patient with the project.
Barnes also thanked F&V for “engineering,” the get-together and for being “continuously reliable and efficient,” in everything they do for the city. He also thanked MDOT, the contractor Mackenzie Companies and the sub-contractors and the Small Urban Task Force and many Portland business including the Portland Federal Credit Union which is paying a special assessment when it didn’t have to.
Barnes said the beauty of the road improvement project can be seen from the crest of Cutler Road near the church.
“One thing that struck me as I crested the hill the first time I drove on the improved road is how far you could see,” he said. “What a vista and view there is from the top of the hill!”
Barnes said he never saw its beauty before because he was always focusing on the potholes and trying to avoid hitting something.
“If you were a passenger, you couldn’t see because your head was vibrating so much because of the nature of the road. And it’s no exaggeration. But now we’ll be enjoying the ride.”
See more pictures on our Facebook.