Road commission announces summer work schedule


ARENAC COUNTY — Last year there was a record amount of road work completed in Arenac County, according to road commission Chairman Ken Stawowy, and 2017 might surpass it.

“In 2016 we broke an all-time record in work done and gravel placed,” Stawowy said. “This year it looks like we’re going to match or exceed that.”

Included in the 2017 schedule is at least $162,434 of township gravel road work, but including pending projects, Stawowy said the gravel road projects could exceed $200,000. A list of local road projects already approved for the summer includes $24,800 in Deep River and Lincoln townships, $35,770 of work in Standish Township, $47,110 in Whitney Township and $54,754 in Turner Township.

However, Stawowy said in Turner Township, the amount would probably be closer to $80,000.

“Knowing their situation, they’ve got their millage money; that’s a new millage in Turner,” he said. “For the first time ever they’ve got their millage money. We’ve matched that with their $25,000 match. Knowing the need, we advanced their 2018 match money. So we advanced them one year, and with their $5,000 free rock (from the countywide primary millage), they actually have the potential of doing about $80,000 worth. They’re not done here.”

Turner Township Clerk Denise Gates said Gawlic, Lentner and Townsend roads and Court Street are among the roads targeted for work. Gates said the offer of getting match money early was one the township could not pass up.

“We had to take it. We had no other choice,” she said. “The people were still not getting their services and worrying about ambulances and police cars and garbage trucks, so we had to go with it.”

“We’re hitting it as hard as we can and we’re concentrating on the roads brought to our attention at the (March 30) meeting and that we’ve been made aware of since then,” Gates said.

Drawing future match money early does mean that sometime over the next five years, the township will not be able to receive its $25,000 millage match from the road commission, Gates said. However, the township is requesting road money from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe during the 2 percent Class 3 gaming revenue distribution later this month, and Gates said she hoped that will allow the township to either tackle more road work or not advance a whole year’s match.

The countywide road millage, now in its third year, will fund two projects — a new pavement project on 1.6 miles of Bessinger Road and a 2-inch overlay on Court Street in Au Gres Township.

Stawowy said the portion of Bessinger Road slated to receive pavement touches Sims, Whitney, Au Gres and Turner townships. The projected price tag is $272,560. Bessinger Road is an unpaved primary road, he said.

“Our goal over the next several years is to have no county primaries that are gravel,” he said. “We currently have several miles of county primary roads that are still gravel.”

The farther north one travels in Michigan, the more likely they are to encounter unpaved primaries, Stawowy said.

“It’s not as rare in Northern Michigan,” he said. “It’s very rare in Southern Michigan. We’re in a transitional period here in the center. Most counties are trying to get away from it, as are we.”

Primaries are main thoroughfares through the county determined by traffic counts conducted on a regular basis, Stawowy said.

The second primary project, the 2-inch overlay on Court Street over two miles in Au Gres Township, will cost about $186,200.

Last year asphalt prices and bids came in lower than expected during the work season, which allowed the road commission to move up some overlay work in its five-year plan. Stawowy said a one-mile overlay on Worth Road in Lincoln Township that was pegged for this year’s millage work was finished a year early. If bids and prices remain low, an additional project could be moved up, he said.

If lower prices persist, the federal gas tax-funded work on Sterling Road that has been in the works for the last couple of years might also be finished ahead of schedule, Stawowy said. This year the county plans to use $485,300 in federal funds to rebuild 1.5 miles of Sterling Road from Grove Road to Wolfe Road, Stawowy said. He said this is the third year federal funds will be used on Sterling Road, as federal monies can only be used on roads that connect state routes, and the road connects I-75 and US-23.

“We’re hoping that if asphalt prices don’t go crazy, that in year four we’d be able to complete that project,” he said. “That would be a good thing, because we had it scheduled for five years. We were able to get an extra half-mile this year because of lower asphalt prices. If that continues, we might be able to finish it next year.”

Paving will not end with primary or federally funded projects, Stawowy said. Two township paving projects, Gordon Road in Au Gres Township and a small stretch of Prescott Drive in Whitney Township, are also on the agenda for this year.

Stawowy said Gordon Road is actually a county primary road, but Au Gres Township is partnering with the road commission for an $83,840 one-mile overlay on the road.

“Even though it’s a primary in their township, they wanted it done,” he said. “It wasn’t in our five-year plan.”

Countywide millage money will not be spent on the project, Stawowy said.

The Prescott Drive work is $24,936 and includes paving on only 0.3 mile, he said.

Using 2 percent grant funds from the tribe, Stawowy said the road commission plans to finish paving Sagatoo Road. The remaining unpaved portion set to be paved is from LaClair Road out to the Saginaw Bay. It is expected to cost about $289,250.

Two bridge replacements are also on deck this year. Stawowy said a $778,000 bridge replacement on Melita Road over the south branch of the Pine River in Lincoln Township is scheduled, as is a $244,000 deck replacement over Big Creek on Townsend Road in Mason Township.

Bridge replacements are 95 percent funded by state critical bridge funds, with the remaining 5 percent, plus engineering, split between the road commission and township, Stawowy said. In the case of the bridges slated for work this year, Lincoln Township and the road commission will each pay 50 percent of $90,000 on Melita Road and the county and Mason Township will split $25,000, Stawowy said.


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