Pat Maurer, Review Correspondent
At the Grant Township meeting this week, someone said “It’s coming. All of our paved roads will have to be turned back into gravel. We just can’t afford to maintain them.”
My God, what a scary thought.
What a shame that the State can’t figure out a way to fund maintenance and repair on our deteriorating roads. The townships sure can’t come up with the millions it would take just to make the much needed repairs in this county.
It’s a vicious circle: Gas goes up, people drive less; the State collects less in taxes and Road Commission funding goes down. Now it is at the point here in the north country of simply maintain the gravel roads while our paved secondary roads fall to pieces.
They say they are working on a solution and I sure hope it includes some much needed funding for us “forgotten” people up here in the north country.
A new surface coat on a paved road costs more than $100K a mile. A new road cost more than $250K a mile…
So I sat there and listened to the concerns aired at that meeting. The board is spending almost every penny they have saved, $330,000 this year on road maintenance – just to keep what they have actually, and they are trying to find a way to prolong the life of the township roads after they fix them. They think if they can limit heavy truck traffic, especially that caused by “detours” when the State does repair a highway, the money they can put into road maintenance will last a little longer.
Seemed reasonable to me.
The last time the State used their township secondary roads during an Old U.S. 27 paving project, they ruined the pavement on a couple of them. And, of course the Michigan Department of Transportation hasn’t volunteered to repair the damage they did either…
In order to limit that destructive traffic though, the township would need to adopt three separate ordinances, then figure out a way to enforce them, either by hiring someone to do it (not in the budget) or by contracting with the Clare County Sheriff’s Department to police the prohibited roads occasionally.
Their attorney said it would be much simpler to ask the Road Commission to enact by resolution an ordinance to cover the situation. They could do it with one ordinance, and the Sheriff’s Department could handle the enforcement.
Oops, they said no.
Why? Well they (the Road Commission) would have to spend about $1,000 that they don’t have on signs (which the township has since said they would be willing to fund by the way), and because it “wouldn’t be fair to the other townships,” (can’t figure out why since they would all have the same option to use the ordinance to designate some roads prohibited to heavy truck traffic if desired); and finally, because it would create a problem to enforce it…
Someone else at the meeting said, “I can’t understand why the County isn’t willing to stand behind the township on this.”
Neither can I. Seems like we have to do something at the local level before it is too late.
I, for one, really don’t want to be back to driving on gravel roads again…