A tale of two County Road Commissions

November 1, 2018

By Supervisor Dan Dysinger

Population density and types of roads drive how funding is distributed in the County Road Commissions in Michigan.  The most important formulas are derived from Public Act 51.  What we’ll do here is compare Clare County, one we consider “needy” and Oakland County, a more

Dan Dysinger, Grant Twp Supervisor

Dan Dysinger, Grant Twp Supervisor

“affluent” area.  When it comes to roadways, maintenance and upkeep in Michigan, there will never be enough funding, our climate insures that.  A friend of mine from Oakland County sent over some information recently from the Oakland Press where details were provided. on funding for roads in Oakland County.

Now I think about his comments when we visit comparing our (Clare Co.) road surfaces to Oakland Co.  He tells me our gravel roads largely resemble many of their paved roads with relationship to ride quality.  Please put the following statistical numbers in perspective.  We are comparing the largest Road Commission budget to Clare County Road Commission, a much smaller budget.

So here are the basic numbers:  Oakland County Info courtesy of the Oakland Press and Road Commission of Oakland County transparency.

Oakland County Road Commission Total Revenues estimated for 2019, $155,250,330.

Total Estimated 2019 projects, $64,750,000 which covers over 22 major projects.

Included in the above revenue stream is $16,812,500 from local sources, Townships etc.

Oakland County has 2600 miles in its road system, 750 miles are gravel.  Combined with MDOT maintained system miles it is the largest in the State, second only to the State Highway System, according to RCOC data.

Oakland County Road Commission has the same number of employees as in 1974.

There are 40 Cities and Villages in Oakland County with an additional 2700 miles of jurisdictional roadways.

Paving one mile in Oakland County is estimated at $2,500,000

Here are the Clare County Road Commission numbers:  Courtesy of Clare County Road Commission and available transparency documents.

Clare County Road Commission Total Revenues estimated for 2019, $8,829,633

No estimates are available for local sources but this may total about $1,000,000 (not included in the above number) from Townships.

Total Estimated 2019 projects and maintenance $7,305,404

Clare County has 1,005 miles in its road system, 716 are gravel roads.

Clare County Road Commission has less employees than 40 years ago, it increases some in the summer.

Clare County has 2 Cities and 3 Village jurisdictions.

Paving one mile of Clare County roadway is estimated at $80,000 to $120,000 depending on thickness.

So let me put on my complaint hat, I don’t like potholes, but they grow like weeds all year long.  I don’t like a bumpy gravel road, they pop up every time it rains.  I will borrow a phrase from a fellow Clare County Township Supervisor.  “In comparison to other areas of the State, people in Clare County should not be complaining about the roads”.  We live in a “needy” County but our roads by comparison are good and steadily improving.  I just messed up what hair I have left after taking off my complaint hat.

My next article will detail some of the latest efforts to circumvent Local Road Commissions and other Local Government Authority over roadways by lobby influenced, misguided State Legislators.  These attempts may pass due to “Lame Ducks” at the State.  There is currently a Senate Bill and House Bill that will make maximum load limits exempt on local roads even during periods of “frost laws”, this is when roads are most vulnerable to damage.  The exemptions proposed deal with logging trucks and licensed farm road vehicles.  These pieces of legislation are clearly not in the best interests of the taxpayers for a number of reasons.  It will also provide specific details on the actual lobbyists involved, the details are disgusting.

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