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Mariah Agee

Important Information

Ensuring the safety of our roadways is a top priority for transportation authorities and community leaders alike. To further this objective, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) implements safety improvement programs to address concerns related to high-crash intersections and roads. MDOT allocates significant resources to enhance road safety through various funding programs with a comprehensive plan designed to identify, prioritize, and implement safety improvements across the state’s transportation infrastructure.

What are my options?

The Michigan Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) is a core Federal-aid program with the goal of achieving a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads, including those that are non-State-owned or on tribal land. Any agency wishing to submit an improvement project is encouraged to apply for HSIP funds. Examples of these projects could include a horizontal curve delineation, rumble strips, edge line pavement markings, signal backplates, countdown pedestrian signals, or a stop-controlled intersection sign upgrade project. Recently, a bipartisan infrastructure law was implemented to emphasize the importance of vulnerable road user safety as part of the HSIP. This strategic program enables MDOT to allocate resources effectively and prioritize projects that will have the most significant impact on improving safety for all Michigan residents.

The High Risk Rural Roads (HRRR) plan allows for an additional funding source, with applicable locations defined as “any roadway functionally classified as a rural major or minor collector or a rural local road with significant safety risks, as defined by a State in accordance with an updated State strategic highway safety plan.” Any rural roadway with an increasing fatality rate may be considered for this funding opportunity, and selected projects are to be obligated in 2026. A non-selected HRRR project will be automatically considered for general 2026 HSIP safety funds.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Does your agency have confusing intersections that often have crashes?
  • Does that blind spot at the intersection hide pedestrians?
  • Are roadway departures common along some of your curves?
  • Do you have a dark roadway that could benefit from better lighting?
  • Are you simply looking to update an older traffic signal layout to the latest standards?

If you are considering any of these improvements, then your community may qualify for safety funding through this grant process. Prein&Newhof is qualified and happy to assist with determining the area of need, applying for funding, and improving the safety of roadways for all users by maximizing this opportunity of available federal funds.

What are my next steps?

These funding opportunities require applications to be prepared in March so that applicable candidates can obtain Letters of Support in time for the submittal deadline at the end of April. Prein&Newhof can assist you by reviewing and assessing whether a particular intersection or road qualifies as a strong candidate for MDOT safety funding. With a focus on vulnerable users, as well as specific locations with high crash rates, we can determine locations that may be approved for funding to address and improve public safety concerns.

Together, we can proactively face these safety challenges by initiating a comprehensive review of your roadways, identifying opportunities for improvement, and positioning your projects for MDOT safety funding!

Call Connie Houk, PE or Scott Tezak, PE at 231-468-3456 to learn more about how these MDOT funding opportunities can benefit your community.

Many of our clients have successfully implemented their parks and recreation projects with the help of 27 different grant programs from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). Our most common success stories have utilized the Natural Resources Trust Fund, the Recreation Passport Grant Program, and/or the Land and Water Conservation Fund. For example, the Boardman Lake Trail Loop project (featured above) made use of funding from some of these sources. Each of these funding opportunities has the potential to benefit your community!

So… tell me more!

The Natural Resources Trust Fund obtains finances from the development of state-owned, profitable resources. Applications are accepted from communities seeking to acquire land for the conservation of natural resources, which can include many opportunities from public facilities to trails. Matching funds are typically a requirement, and other deciding factors include financial need and regional significance. Before applying, the community also needs an established five-year recreation plan approved by the MDNR by February 1st. This master plan takes inventory of a community’s assets and rates their accessibility while gathering public input and developing goals, objectives, and a prioritized project plan. This month, the board recommended over 27 million dollars in these acquisition and development grants. The five-year recreation plan has proven to be enormously beneficial to communities in many other ways outside of just funding applications.

The Recreation Passport Grant Program is another excellent opportunity to fund parks and recreation projects. You’ve likely noticed that when you renew your driver’s license each year, you have the option to add the annual “recreation pass” for a low cost. You may know that this checkbox allows you to enter any state park without additional payment, but do you know where that money goes? It goes right back into your community’s recreation facilities. In addition to establishing new amenities, facilities that have been loved and used beyond their “useful life expectancy” are invited to be restored with this grant. Renovated facilities could include kayak launches, splash pads, restrooms, drinking fountains, pickleball and other sport courts, or pavilions. This month, it was announced that nearly $2 million in Recreation Passport grants were awarded for these park and trail improvements and developments. To be eligible for this program, a community must either have an approved five-year recreation plan on file by February 1st or submit a capital improvement plan with their application.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) provides matching grants to states and local governments for the acquisition and development of public land. According to the LWCF Act of 1964, this fund was created to “assist in preserving, developing, and assuring accessibility of all citizens of present and future generations… such quality and quantity of outdoor recreation resources as may be available and are necessary and desirable for individual active participation.” Examples of suitable projects can include land that provides access to water-based recreation opportunities, nature preserves of biological importance, or land within urban areas for day-use parks and recreation. To be eligible for this program, a community must also have an approved five-year recreation plan on file by February 1st and hold a public meeting to receive input on the grant application.

How can I get involved?

The MDNR is committed to providing Michigan residents with the opportunity to share input and ideas on policy decisions, programs, and other aspects of local natural resource management and outdoor recreation opportunities. One important avenue for input is at public meetings such as the Michigan State Parks Advisory Council or the Trails Advisory Council. To see these public meetings and more, you can check the DNR boards, commissions, committees, and councils web page for updates.

The MDNR is also conducting a survey about your experiences at Michigan state parks over the past year. The survey takes about ten minutes to complete and helps with planning future park improvements!

Need assistance with your grant submittals or want to begin preparing a plan for the following year? Call Matt Levandoski, PLA at 616-364-0200.

The Village of Vicksburg and Prein&Newhof are honored as the Vicksburg Major Downtown Infrastructure Project was given the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award by the Michigan Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).


Village of Vicksburg Manager Jim Mallery and Prein&Newhof Project Manager Jason Washler, PE (center) receive the award from ASCE Michigan Section leaders (left and right) at the Michigan Infrastructure Conference in East Lansing.


The enhancement of downtown Vicksburg is getting attention for all the right reasons. This extensive project, which also won the Southwest Chapter of the Michigan American Public Works Association’s (APWA) Outstanding Civil Engineering Award, involved transforming downtown Vicksburg’s infrastructure and gathering spaces.

It began with the Village of Vicksburg needing to replace its existing 80-year-old water and sewer lines that ran down Main Street. In conjunction with these major $9 million infrastructure improvements, Vicksburg took this opportunity to further develop and implement a plan to bring people to the heart of its village. Prein&Newhof Project Managers Jason Washler, PE and Mike Schwartz, PE, along with their team of civil engineers and landscape architects, worked with Village leadership to form a group of next-generation business owners to help steer the proposed improvements plan. The group wanted the downtown area to be a place for people to walk and stay, not simply drive through.

To accomplish this goal, Prein&Newhof redesigned the downtown area’s Main Street for one-way traffic with on-street parking. The plan called for wider sidewalks and a plaza area at a midblock sidewalk crossing to provide more space for people to congregate. The design also included refurbished pedestrian streetlights, redesigned traffic signals, charging stations, planter beds and pots, underground irrigation, street trees, enhanced crosswalks, and new right-of-way furniture (benches, trash receptacles, bike racks, tables, and chairs). Oswalt Park, located on the corner of E. Prairie and Main Streets, also needed refreshing. This was tied into the infrastructure construction work on Main Street and greatly expanded the downtown community gathering space.

The results of this multifaceted award-winning project, combined with another major development project in Vicksburg at the Mill of South County, are expected to help the Village continue to grow and blossom by stimulating the local economy and attracting a new workforce to the area for years to come.


Many members of the community attended the Oswalt Park Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.

The City of Ludington and Prein&Newhof are honored as Legacy Plaza, an outdoor community gathering and event space in downtown Ludington, was named 2022 Project of the Year in the category of Structures Costing $1 million to $5 million by the Michigan Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA-MI).

Legacy Plaza is a realized dream that has been almost thirty-five years in the making. The vision began in the 1980s, when the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) aimed to transform James Street into a community gathering place. In the following years, the area was increasingly closed to traffic until, in 2007, it became a pedestrian-only space for farmers markets and local events. However, the space retained its road structure with lots of curbing and tripping hazards. It was evident that achieving the community gathering space envisioned in earlier years would require more than just closing a street.

In 2019, the City of Ludington teamed with Prein&Newhof to help bring this dream to life. “Prein&Newhof provided cost estimating for the project. The City was then able to successfully apply for a $2.1 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) through a Community Development Block Grant (CBDG),” said Prein&Newhof Project Manager Matt Hulst, PE. With this grant in hand, along with $389,710 in private donations and fundraising efforts by the DDA, the city was able to move its Legacy Plaza dream forward based on Prein&Newhof’s designs.

Legacy Plaza’s name was chosen to honor the memory and contributions of the people who founded the Ludington area: the Native Americans—the Ottawa, Chippewa, and Potawatomi tribes—that were the first to settle the area, and the workers in the lumber and maritime industries who built the community of Ludington. “The thematic design of Legacy Plaza is based on the value of community to celebrate the people who have called the Ludington area home throughout the years,” said Prein&Newhof Landscape Architect Matt Levandoski, PLA. Prein&Newhof provided site design, water main and storm water design, landscape architecture, and construction observation services. This work involved navigating previous utilities and working with other engineers, architects, and contractors to create an effective site design and utility plan.

Completed in July 2021 after about 10 months of construction, Legacy Plaza’s amenities include a concessions building and restroom, a large event pavilion representing the city’s lumber heritage, a three-sided gas fireplace representing the three local Native American tribes, a concert stage and lawn, lighting, and site furnishings. These elements are tied together with decorative concrete, lighting, and landscaping designed by Prein&Newhof Landscape Architects Paul Reinhold, PLA and Collin Manns and partners at Century A&E. Legacy Plaza is now equipped to serve downtown Ludington for years to come as a backdrop for a vibrant community with accessible usability for a wide variety of events.

Congratulations to Prein&Newhof Senior Project Manager Barbara Marczak, PE for her recent acceptance of the George Warren Fuller Award from the Michigan Section of the American Water Works Association (MI-AWWA).

This award is presented annually by AWWA to each sections’ honored member for distinguished service to the water supply field in commemoration of the sound engineering skill, brilliant diplomatic talent, and constructive leadership which characterized the life of George Warren Fuller, a remarkable pioneer of the engineering field.

Marczak is certainly deserving of this award that recognizes outstanding service in the water supply field, both for the work she performs at Prein&Newhof and in her various roles in numerous industry-related professional associations. She previously earned the Raymond J. Faust Award from the Michigan Section AWWA in 2019.  She notes that she “is honored to have received the award and feels privileged to have been mentored by Tom Newhof, one of Prein&Newhof’s founders, and a previous recipient of the George Warren Fuller Award.”

Marczak also provides leadership within Prein&Newhof’s civil and environmental engineering groups and is currently the company’s Muskegon office Team Leader and a member of its Executive Committee.  In her 35+ years in the profession, Marczak has worked with many West Michigan communities on a variety of civil and environmental engineering projects involving municipal water supplies, treatment, and distribution, as well as wastewater treatment facilities, stormwater management, and sites of environmental contamination. In addition, she has extensive experience in environmental compliance and has completed projects involving groundwater, including hydrogeologic studies for municipal and private water supplies, treatment of drinking water, remediation of contaminated groundwater, and wellhead protection. She also has helped communities with a variety of grants and funding mechanisms for infrastructure and asset management.

Marczak has been an AWWA member since 1986 and has served as MI-AWWA Chair (2015-2016), Chair Elect (2014-2015), Vice Chair (2013-2014), Trustee (2010-2013), and as a member/chair of various other AWWA committees and councils. She is also an active member of the Water Environment Federation and the Michigan Water Environment Association.

Marczak holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan. She was licensed as a Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan in 1990. She joined Prein&Newhof in 1987, where she’s been living our values for more than 35 years.

Featured Image: Heather Collins, Vice-President of AWWA, presents the Fuller Award and pin to Barbara Marczak at the Michigan’s AWWA Annual conference in September.

Prein&Newhof has won three awards from notable professional associations for its work on Phase II of Ottawa County’s Spoonville Trail. These include:

  • Public Works Project of the Year Award from the American Public Works Association – Michigan Chapter (APWA-MI);
  • Project of the Year Award – Transportation from the American Public Works Association – Midwest Michigan Branch (APWA-MI);
  • Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers – Michigan Chapter’s (ASCE-MI).

Ottawa County began building this shared use pathway along 120th Avenue in Robinson and Crockery Townships in 2015. The Spoonville Trail’s purpose is to connect the North Bank Trail on the north side of the Grand River to the Idema Explorer’s Trail at the M–231 Trailhead on the south side of the river. These two trails will ultimately span from Lake Michigan to Metro Grand Rapids, with the critical new Spoonville Trail providing the only Grand River crossing between Spring Lake and Grand Rapids.

Prein&Newhof provided site analysis and investigation, design development and cost estimating, permitting, construction document preparation, and construction administration for the Spoonville Trail. Ottawa County split the project into two phases, each designed by Prein&Newhof, to effectively utilize project funding sources.

Construction on the award-winning Phase II of Spoonville Trail began in 2020, with the goal of expanding the path an additional 1.75 miles from the intersection of Leonard Road and 120th Avenue to the north side of I–96 in Nunica to connect it with the North Bank Trail. The project also included a new 13–spot trailhead parking lot on 120th Avenue. Prein&Newhof Landscape Architects Paul Reinhold, PLA and Matt Levandoski, PLA incorporated only native grasses and plant species into the design of this parking lot and when enhancing select locations along the rest of the trail.

Developing the scenic Spoonville Trail presented a few design and construction challenges along the way as Prein&Newhof Project Manager Scott Post, PE explains, “For Phase II, Ottawa County chose to avoid merging the trail into the road right–of–way along Leonard Road and 112th Avenue. Instead, we designed the trail to run along the perimeter of Terra Verde Golf Course, creating a more beautiful user experience. To achieve this alternative route, we knew we had to meet ADA regulations within the deep ravines of the golf course. We also had to prevent soil erosion, decide where to land the boardwalks, obtain easements from property owners, and obtain right–of–way permits from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the FHWA because the design involved I–96, a federal highway.”

The construction of Phase II was completed in the spring of 2021, allowing the public to enjoy the entire award-winning Spoonville Trail. Totaling $3.76 million, the Spoonville Trail was funded by MDOT Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund, Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, DALMAC, Quiet Water Society, Loutit Foundation, Scholten Fant, Shape Corporation, Rycenga Building Center, Charter Communications, and many other generous donors.

Prein&Newhof and the City of Walker have been honored with an Engineering Honorable Conceptor Award for the Walker Avenue Bridge Removal project by the American Council of Engineering Companies–Michigan Chapter (ACEC-MI).

The City of Walker had this project’s goals in mind for nearly 20 years, as it tried to identify feasible funding sources to fix the issues with the Walker Avenue Bridge over the Coopersville & Marne Railway.

“Prein&Newhof learned of Walker’s challenge with this bridge in 2019 and dug in to help them solve it,” explains Senior Project Manager Jason Washler, PE.

The concrete box beam structure was weight-restricted and in serious need of repair, which hindered BISSELL®, a commercial industry within the corridor, from expanding its facility. In addition to these concerns, BISSELL’s only access drive failed to meet the required stopping sight distance for motorists.

Rather than widening and replacing the bridge as originally planned, the City of Walker and Prein&Newhof project team decided that removing the bridge and returning the corridor to an at-grade crossing was best. This solution corrected the stopping sight distance safety concerns while also eliminating the need for future inspection and long-term maintenance of the bridge. The design also added an overhead signal at the crossing to make the railway more visible to oncoming motorists. The State of Michigan’s Local Bridge Authority agreed to fund this solution, having turned down three previous funding requests related to this bridge.

The City of Walker’s Department of Public Works Director Gary Postema, Prein&Newhof Senior Project Manager Jason Washler, PE and Prein&Newhof Construction Services Coordinator Brent VanDyke accepted the award at the ACEC-MI 2022 Engineering & Surveying Excellence Awards Gala at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan.

Prein&Newhof provided design, bid assistance, construction staking, full-time construction observation, professional project management, and consistent public communication, including a construction update webpage to keep the public informed of progress throughout the project.

Construction was completed during the summer of 2020, and the results provided BISSELL the confidence to invest $6.3 million to renovate its building and create 99 new jobs. The successful outcome and positive impact for the community helped the Walker Avenue Bridge Removal project and its team to win this ACEC-MI award.

This project is competing in the national ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards event in Washington DC in May 2022.

Aerial view of Walker Avenue with the bridge removed. BISSELL® Worldwide Headquarters is in the foreground with the railroad crossing and a Meijer Distribution Center beyond.