Paving Gravel Roads

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Requests or questions related to the maintenance of gravel roads (plowing, grading, dust control, etc.), should be submitted through A2 Fix It.​ or by phone at 734.794.6350.​

Each yea​r, the City receives requests to pave gravel roads in the City of Ann Arbor. This page will help residents understand this process.​

Chapter 12 of City Code states that paving of a gravel road is considered a first-time improvement and therefore a special assessment is required. When a special assessment occurs, properties benefitting from the project (typically defined as the properties adjacent to the area to be paved) are required to pay for the cost of the project.

Paving a gravel road is more than laying down asphalt. It often requires:

  • ​installation of curb and gutter to adequately control storm runoff;
  • stormwater infrastructure to comply with the City's Green Streets policy;
  • possibly the installation of sidewalks.

The cost of these projects varies depending on the circumstances. However, assessments to property owners will likely range in the tens of thousands of dollars per property. Special assessment charges are found on property owners' tax bills and there are financing options available, typically up to 15 years, to pay back the assessment.


The very first step in this process is the requirement that a petition (PDF) be submitted to show that there is broad support for paving-. The petition needs to be signed by at least 50% of the property owners that would be specially assessed for the project (i.e. the property owners adjacent to the segment to be paved).

The petition should clearly identify the segment of road to be paved, including the street name(s) and the limits (from which intersection to which intersection). The request must abut a section of road that is already paved (i.e. the  segment cannot end at an existing gravel road on both ends). Submitting a petition​ does not commit the signers to paying for the project; only that they are interested enough to request a project be created.

Petition documentation should be submitted to [email protected] or mailed to Engineering Unit, 301 E. Huron Street, P.O. Box 8647, Ann Arbor, MI 48107-8647​.

Once a successful petition is submitted, a project will be created in the city's Capital Improvements Plan (CIP)​, a document that schedules and allocates funding to infrastructure projects over a six-year period. New projects are added to the CIP only once every two years, typically in the fall. Once a project is created in the CIP, it is programmed for a certain year. While the paving of a gravel road is ultimately paid for by residents adjacent to the road, the city still needs to pay the upfront costs of the project until those can be paid back. This competition for funding can result in the project not being scheduled for several years.

Once a project is scheduled, the following steps will occur:

  1. A year or two prior to the scheduled construction year, the project will be assigned to a manager in the Engineering Unit. The project manager will reach out to the property owners early in the design process to discuss the project, potential costs, impacts, etc. 

  2. Ultimately, the decision of whether to proceed with a special assessment project falls to City Council. The paving of a gravel road would be presented to City Council in a series of four Resolutions, each requiring a majority vote to approve. Included in this process is a formal public hearing at a City Council meeting, where residents can speak directly to Council about the project.

  3. If City Council approves the special assessment, then the project will proceed to construction.

  4. Special assessment charges will typically start to appear on the next summer tax bill following the completion of construction.​