Transportation & Utilities FAQ

  1. Who do I contact if a streetlight is out?
  2. How do I know where my property lines are?
  3. Where does the rain water from my street go?
  4. Where can I find out about work on I-94?
  5. When can I find out how long a road will be under construction?
  6. Do I need a permit to construct a driveway or work in the public right of way?
  7. How do I report a water main break?
  8. How do I report a sewer line back up?
  9. How often are streets swept in Portage? 
  10. How much does it cost to get connected to the City's water and sewer service if I have a well and septic system now?
  11. How do I know if water and sewer is available at a given address?
  12. Who do I contact if I think my water bill is wrong?
  13. Where do I go to pay my water bill?
  14. What do I do if my meter is leaking, I have low water pressure, or feel that my water is dirty and has an odor?
  15. Who do I contact if a traffic signal light is burned out or appears to be not operating correctly?
  16. How is the placement of traffic signals determined?
  17. How do pedestrian signals work?
  18. Is it really necessary for me to push a button to activate the pedestrian signal, or can I just wait for the light to change?
  19. Why does it always say, "Don’t walk" before I've completed crossing the street?

 


 

1. Who do I contact if a streetlight is out?
The streetlight system in the City of Portage is owned and operated by Consumers Energy.  The cost for the energy use is paid to Consumers Energy by City of Portage general revenue.  If you notice a streetlight is out please visit the Consumers Energy website at www.consumersenergy.com.  Those without access to a computer may call the City of Portage Transportation and Utilities Department at (269) 329-4422 to report a streetlight outage.

2. How do I know where my property lines are?
The city has mapping available to determine approximate boundaries and property line locations.  The City of Portage does not have a Licensed Surveyor or staff to perform property surveys.  There are many local survey companies which can perform this task.

3. Where does the rain water from my street go?
Storm water in Portage is generally collected at catch basins and allowed to infiltrate (drain) back into the subsoil. In a few instances, neighborhoods near a lake or Portage Creek have a drain to the water body for discharge. Regardless of the discharge location is important to never dispose of litter, oils, pet waste or any other debris in the catch basin.  If you observe any suspicious activity around a catch basin, please call (269) 329-4422 to report any dumping.

4. Where can I find out about work on I-94?
You may learn the current status of I-94 widening projects at the Michigan Department of Transportation.  You may also contact the local MDOT office at (269) 375-8900 to obtain further details about a MDOT project.

5. When can I find out how long a road will be under construction?
You may find out about current street projects and detours through our Major Street Construction page. You may also contact the Transportation and Utilities Department at (269) 329-4422 to obtain further details about a project.

6. Do I need a permit to construct a driveway or work in the public right of way?
Yes, driveway permits are issued by the Department of Community Development.  Please contact the Building Services Division at (269) 329-4477 with questions.  Permits to work in the public right of way are issued by the department of Transportation and Utilities.  Please contact the Transportation Divison project manager at (269) 329-4422 with questions.

7. How do I report a water main break?
If you believe there is a water main break please contact United Water (the city contract utility operator) at (269) 324-9235.

8. How do I report a sewer line back up?
If you notice a sewer back up in your basement or on your property please contact United Water (the city contract utility operator) at (269) 324-9235 to investigate the city system for blockages.  The maintenance of the sewer line from the house to the street is in most instances the responsibility of the property owner.

9. How often are streets swept in Portage? 
All public streets in the city are swept twice each year - once in the spring and again in the fall in conjuction with the Fall Leaf Pickup.

10. How much does it cost to get connected to the city's water and sewer service if I have a well and septic system now?
Most areas of Portage have municipal water and/or sanitary sewer available.   To determine the cost to make a connection to the system(s) please call the Department of Community Development at (269) 324-9241 to request a permit be entered into the city permitting system for connection fee purposes.

11. How do I know if water and sewer is available at a given address?
To see if this service is available in your area please contact the GIS specialist in the Department of Community Development at (269) 329-4477.

12. Who do I contact if I think my water bill is wrong?
If you have a question regarding your water & sewer bill please call the City of Portage Treasury Department at (269) 329-4455.

13. Where do I go to pay my water bill?
The Treasury Department is located at Portage City Hall, 7900 South Westnedge Avenue and is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  A drop box is available at City Hall for after hours payments.

14. What do I do if my meter is leaking, I have low water pressure or feel that my water is dirty and has an odor?
Please call United Water at (269) 324-9235 and request a service person be dispatched to your home to determine the problem.

15. Who do I contact if a traffic signal light is burned out or appears to be not operating correctly?
If a traffic light seems out of sync you may call the Traffic Engineer in the Department of Transportation and Utilities at (269) 329-4422.

16. How is the placement of traffic signals determined?
Traffic signals don't always prevent accidents. In some instances, total accidents and severe injuries increased after signals were installed. Usually, in such instances, right angle collisions were reduced by the traffic signals, but the total number of collisions, especially the rear-end type, increased.
There are times when the installation of signals result in an increase in pedestrian accidents. Many pedestrians feel secure with a painted crosswalk and a red light between them and an approaching vehicle. The motorist, on the other hand, is not always so quick to recognize these "barriers."

When can a traffic signal be an asset instead of a liability to safety? In order to answer this, traffic engineers have to ask and answer a series of questions:

  • Are there so many cars on both streets that signal controls are necessary to clear up the confusion or relieve the congestion?
  • Is the traffic on the main street so heavy that drivers on the side street will try to cross when it is unsafe?
  • Are there so many pedestrians trying to cross a busy main street that confusing, congested or hazardous conditions result?
  • Are there so many school children trying to cross the street at the same time that they need special controls for their protection? If so, is a traffic signal the best solution?
  • Are signals at this location going to help drivers maintain a uniform pace along the route without stopping unnecessarily?
  • Does the accident history indicate that signal controls will reduce the probability of crashes?
  • Do two arterials intersect at this location and will a signal help improve the flow of traffic?
  • Is there a combination of the above conditions which indicates that a signal will be an improvement rather than a detriment?

To aid them in answering these questions, engineers compare the existing conditions against nationally accepted minimum guidelines. Experienced traffic engineers established these guidelines (warrants) from many observations at intersections throughout the country. Where the guidelines were met, the signals generally were operating effectively with good public compliance. Where the guidelines were not met, public compliance was reduced, and additional hazards resulted.

A traffic signal that decreases accidents and improves the flow of traffic is an asset to any community. On the other hand, an ill-advised or poorly designed signal can be a source of danger and annoyance to all that use the intersection; pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike.

17. How do pedestrian signals work?
The pedestrian signal provides time for the pedestrians to enter the street on the steady walk signal or walking person symbol, and to finish crossing the street on the flashing don't walk or upraised hand signal. The signal is normally activated by a push button, which causes the traffic signal controller to operate a pre-programmed timed sequence of walk and flashing don't walk indications.

Pedestrian signals consist of walk and don't walk signals or the international symbols displaying a person walking for the walk indication, and a hand for the don't walk indication. The walk indication is displayed in white, and the don't walk indication is displayed in Portland orange.

The pedestrian signal sequence begins when the walk indication is illuminated, and this sequence is typically four to seven seconds long. This sequence should be long enough for a pedestrian to leave the curb and begin crossing the street before the clearance interval begins.

The pedestrian clearance interval consists of the flashing don't walk indication. During this interval the pedestrian is expected to complete their crossing of the street. The pedestrian should not, however, begin crossing the street on the flashing don't walk indication. The pedestrian clearance interval is typically calculated by dividing the street width by an assumed walking speed of four feet per second, unless a special study indicates that a longer time interval is needed for all pedestrian to safely cross the street, i.e. a slower walking speed of 3.5 feet per second is often used for elderly pedestrians. The actual distance used to calculate the clearance interval is usually the distance from the curb on the near side of the street to the center of the last traffic lane on the far side of the street.

The don't walk indication, steadily illuminated, means that a pedestrian is not to enter the street in the direction of the pedestrian signal.

18. Is it really necessary for me to push a button to activate the pedestrian signal, or can I just wait for the light to change?
Where buttons are available to pedestrians, it is because the traffic signal is timed for cars, not for people on foot.  If you don't activate the pedestrian signal by pushing the button, the traffic light won't give you enough time to safely cross the street.  You only need to push the button once for it to be activated.

19. Why does it always say, "Don’t walk" before I've completed crossing the street?
The flashing "don't walk" or upraised hand is a warning to people who have not yet entered the intersections that it's too late to safely cross the street before the traffic signal changes allowing cars to proceed. Signals are timed to allow plenty of time for people who have already started walking to safely cross the street.