It seemed to be a contest — which one would be pounded into gravel first, Pine Street or State Street from Pine to the cratered, axle-bending intersection with Union.
And that's not even counting the sidewalks.
Finally, after years of almost shameful neglect, two of the worst stretches of pavement anywhere in Traverse City are going to get some attention.
Starting Aug. 13 the city will fix sidewalks and streets near the intersections at Pine and West Front as well as State and Union.
The project will reconstruct Pine Street from West Front and around the corner as it turns into State. State Street work will continue to Union Street. There will also be work along West Front from Pine to about halfway to the Boardman River bridge.
The city will include bike lanes, on-street parking and redo sidewalks to eliminate the cracked and broken concrete that make some stretches almost unwalkable. The State and Union intersection will get a new pedestrian signal that counts down the seconds; the traffic island at Pine and Front will be enlarged to make it easier — and safer — for pedestrians to stop while waiting for traffic to clear.
In short, the western entrance to downtown will finally look more like the rest of the city than urban renewal gone bad. Traffic heading into the city from Front and Division is now met with patched-up concrete that leads to even more cracks and bumps as traffic heads east on State. The west side of the intersection at State and Union is a disaster.
Apparently there had been some debate inside the city about waiting even longer to get the project started on the off chance some hoped-for development would get under way, but wiser heads prevailed.
All this will tie in with longtime plans for a pedestrian bridge across the Boardman River connecting West Front with the Warehouse District. The bridge project could begin next year; Traverse City Light & Power will wait until the bridge is built to put electric lines underground and remove utility poles, a significant step toward cleaning up the area.
The west side has been languishing for years with little or no city infrastructure investment. We still have the huge hole in the ground across from Pine and Front, the southeast and southwest corners there are still bare lots, and driving is an ordeal.
It's past time for the city to spend some time and money in an area that is just waiting for a kick start.