Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 19, 2013

State marks funds for local roads


---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A big chunk of state funding for local road improvements is headed to the Grand Traverse region.

State lawmakers and local officials will release a list of road projects during an event at the Grand Traverse County Road Commission today. The state’s Roads and Risk Reserve Fund will pay for the projects.

The list contains $1.5 million for projects in Traverse City, including $1 million for work on the West Front Street Bridge and $500,000 for a study related to improvements to Division Street, plus more than $600,000 for road projects in Grand Traverse County’s villages, State Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, said.

The village projects include more than $300,000 for improvements to Pierce Street in Fife Lake, and $300,000 and $49,000 respectively for improvements to Fenton and Cottage streets in Kingsley.

About $17.5 million is designated for improvements to roads north of Claire, including the Upper Peninsula. Schmidt said the announced projects benefit the region in more ways than one.

“It’s more money, it’s more jobs up north here,” Schmidt said.

Projects that did not make the cut included improvements to the Cass Street Bridge south of Traverse City and a wish list of projects from county road commission officials. They wanted funding for LaFrainer Road and a slew of projects currently slated to be funded through the road commission’s voter-approved 1-mill millage increase, road commission Manager Jim Cook said.

“If Santa comes early and we get some funding for that list, than we’re going to identify an additional list (for millage funding),” he said.

Cook also floated to state officials the idea of funding for an “east-west corridor “, though he said he did not specify what an east-west corridor project would entail.

Michigan lawmakers created the Roads and Risk Reserve Fund using $230 million in one-time general fund revenue as part of the state’s fiscal year 2014 budget process. Half of that money was available for appropriation on Oct. 1. The other half can be appropriated for roads on Feb. 1, according to MDOT.

Schmidt said he’s working with local officials to identify more projects for funding from the Roads and Risk Reserve Fund.

“We’ll continue to work together and find some more projects,” he said. “This is a good first start.”