MARQUETTE — Marquette Township’s three-year road restoration is complete and under budget, officials say.
Marquette Township trustee and road committee member David Wiegand told the township board that preliminary payment applications totaled $685,193 at the end of the project — $44,657 less than the proceeds of two bonds totaling $729,868.
“Basically the road rehab project is complete at this point,” Wiegand said. “We have had about six complaints that primarily deal with drainage issues, and I believe that they are outside of the scope of the road rehab project.”
The township obtained the bonds to fund the road project with a 1.5-mill, 15-year millage approved by voters in 2014.
Trustee Pete LaRue asked if the bond proceeds could be used for other types of road maintenance, citing safety concerns on certain township roads.
“I am talking specifically about Brookton Road,” LaRue said. “If you ride down that, take a look at the shoulders, it’s down about 8 or 10 inches.”
Marquette Township Manager Randy Girard said the proceeds of the bonds were to be used strictly for road surface rehabilitation, so the funds cannot be used for any other purpose.
“We have to be very careful because the millage language was very specific to surface restoration,” Girard said.
Wiegand said the Marquette County Road Commission had put cones in the area of the portion of Brookton Road LaRue was referencing the intention of fixing the problems there, and stressed the importance of caution in terms of the roads budget.
“I guess it would be my opinion that we would need to hold off on spending any money that we think we are under budget — because we don’t have the final bills in yet,” Wiegand said.
The issue is one of many that may be discussed during a joint work session with the MCRC at 3 p.m. Nov. 29.
The discussion of cooperative road maintenance planning for the next 15 years will be the single item on the agenda.
“We would be doing the maintenance, but it is whatever (the road commission) would be doing to help us maintain those roads, whether it be drainage or whatever,” Girard said. “So we don’t spend money doing the same thing.”
The MCRC Board Chairman Ray Roberts requested the meeting in a letter to the township after initially refusing to participate in a board-to-board meeting with Marquette Township, citing concerns over equal treatment of the other 18 townships in Marquette County.
Marquette Township Supervisor Lyn Durant said the meeting would help the two bodies to develop a long-term plan to safeguard the township’s $7.5 million investment in the road system.
“That is part of what we are trying to figure out, is how can we keep these ditches up, how can we keep these roads in good shape because they are (the MCRC’s) roads,” Durant said during the Oct. 4 township meeting.
While townships in many other states have primary responsibility for local roads, according the Michigan Township Association website, in Michigan the county road commissions and townships share transportation-related responsibilities.
“Road commissions are responsible for maintenance and construction of local roads, while townships are responsible for non-transportation uses of road rights-of-way, subsurface rights-of-way usage such as utilities and communication systems, and law enforcement,” the MTA website states.
According to the site, the state transportation fund doesn’t provide sufficient financial resources for road commissions to perform their responsibilities, in spite of state law assigning maintenance and construction responsibility to road commissions.
“Consequently, township boards voluntarily contribute over $150 million per year to their county road commissions to support road projects in their respective townships,” the website states.
MCRC Engineer Manager Jim Iwanicki said townships within the county have followed that statewide trend, spending $1.5 million on local road systems in 2016 — not including the millage work in Marquette Township.
“We need to make the roads safe to travel for Marquette County residents– our partners (townships) are huge in that,” Iwanicki said.
Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.