Auburn Bean & Grain prepares for business

US-23 access for northbound trucks granted

Kevin Bunch
Auburn Bean & Grain's facility in Lincoln Township should be ready to go by the wheat harvest, according to Vice President of Marketing Ron Balzer.

LINCOLN TWP. — Auburn Bean & Grain is putting the finishing touches on its new facility in Lincoln Township, and is planning on holding an open house Aug. 8.

ABG President Cliff Vennix said in a statement that all the grain storage bins and the grain dryers were ready to go by the end of June. In the same statement, Auburn Bean & Grain Vice President of Marketing Ron Balzer said the plant should be ready to go in time for the summer wheat harvests. Plant Manager Kyle Arnold also believes the facility should be completely set to take in soybeans and corn in the fall.

A point of contention with the Michigan Department of Transportation has been resolved regarding trucks being allowed to turn north on US-23 out of the granary’s parking lot. According to MDOT Manager Jack Hofweber, Auburn Bean & Grain has been permitted to let traffic leave north on US-23.

“We’ve given them the safest access in and out of there,” Hofweber said. “They did ask MDOT to review the speeds out there to see if we can lower the speeds, so we will be checking that this year.”

Vennix spoke at a Lincoln Township meeting in the spring about MDOT being wary of allowing trucks to exit on the highway, but Hofweber said MDOT’s concerns had been allayed.

“We reviewed their plan, we approved their plan, and we feel that their plan they are providing and building is the safest one we have available at this point,” he said. “There are a few things we can add out there, like a sign for truck crossings, and the speeds.”

A deceleration lane for the facility is under construction along US-23, and Hofweber said with the lane, it will be the “safest driveway” that the company can provide.

ABG is paying for the deceleration lane from its own funds.

“There’s a state grant for it, but Cliff doesn’t want to wait,” Lincoln Township Supervisor David Hertzberg said during the township board’s July 11 meeting, noting that Vennix would have concerns about safety if the lane were not being added in.

Officials in Lincoln Township and the city of Standish were relieved at hearing the news from MDOT. They were unhappy with the possibility that northbound traffic would need to travel exclusively along Old M-10 and Front Street to reach the stoplight at M-61 to go north, At each respective municipality’s July meetings — July 11 for Lincoln Township and July 15 for Standish — both Hertzberg and City Councilman Nelson Ireland expressed concerns the heavy vehicles would tear up their roads.

“If that is in fact what happened, it’s good for the city,” City Manager Curt Hillman said. “I was concerned about Old M-10 and Front Street (as they) weren’t built to handle that sort of traffic. We don’t have to look at an immediate reconstruction of a street — maybe down the line, but not immediately. We will still have some trucks heading north, but at least not all of them will be going out there.”


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