By Charles Sercombe
The worst case scenario was that the Holbrook repaving project would be on hold until next spring.
As The Review went to press Thursday, a labor dispute had been partially settled to allow work to resume after a three-week standstill.
That agreement between the road construction workers (Operating Engineers Local 324) and the contractors (the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association) appeared unreachable as of Wednesday. Union members said they have been locked out of their jobs.
Both sides credited Gov. Rick Snyder for helping broker a deal. Snyder had planned to bring in the National Guard to finish work on I-696, and the contractors were going to hire non-union workers to come in.
The workers on the Holbrook site are also members of the same union as those working on I-696.
Even if the National Guard and non-union workers had stepped in the Hamtramck project would not have been addressed.
But with the union workers coming back, work is expected to begin this week, possible today (Friday, Sept. 28).
As of now the westbound lane on Holbrook from Jos. Campau to Gallagher has been blocked off while crews install new water and sewer lines.
That left only the eastbound lane, from Mitchell to Gallagher, open for one-way traffic.
The city planned to have Holbrook repaved from Jos. Campau to Conant by the end of November.
City Manager Kathy Angerer said it’s still possible the project can be completed on time.
“We expect they would work extended hours and weekends to complete the project,” she said.
Plus, Angerer added, the project was actually ahead of schedule at the time the labor dispute erupted.
Union workers have been working without a contract since the project began this summer.
The project, costing $1 million, is being funded through the federal government – although the city has to kick in 20 percent of the cost out of its yearly street repair fund.
Road construction cannot continue much past November since colder weather prevents the pouring of cement.
Editor’s note: the original report incorrectly said the eastbound lane on Holbrook was closed to traffic. It is the westbound lane, from Gallagher to Jos. Campau, that is closed.
Sept. 28, 2018