Due to the surge of complaints involving a delay in the Pontiac Trail and West Maple Road intersection reconstruction project in Walled Lake, the county’s Federal Aid Task Force Committee has been compelled to shuffle projects around to move it up one year.
The project was initially scheduled for 2013. The roadways riddled with potholes frustrated residents and officials who vocalized their disgust repeatedly to the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC), which maintains jurisdiction over the intersection.
“Getting the project moved up a full year is certainly good news,” said Walled Lake Department of Public Works Director Loyd Cureton. “We understand they had a lot of hoops to jump through, but at the rate the road is deteriorating there was no other choice.”
While RCOC officials agree that the intersection is deteriorating and brutal for motorists, the decision to slate the project for 2013 was ultimately made by the Federal Aid Task Force Committee, not the RCOC.
Federal road funds are forwarded to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) and divvied out through the Federal Aid Task Force Committee, which is comprised of representatives from cities, villages, townships, and two from the RCOC.
According to RCOC Spokesperson Craig Bryson, the project was submitted in 2009 and selected last year, but the funding would not be available for four years.
“It had to go the Federal Aid Task Force Committee to get bumped up, but it was a priority for us, too,” Bryson said.
The committee convened Tuesday, Feb. 22, and voted to move up the project to spring 2012, given the detriment to motorists.
“Our residents and elected officials, as well as commuters inundated the RCOC with complaints to do anything possible to move up the repair date,” Cureton said. “Council and our city manager were involved on a daily basis to make this happen because it’s been a prominent problem, especially with businesses in the community.”
Oakland County Commissioner Philip Weipert (R-Walled Lake, Wixom) called the decision to bump up the project’s construction date “good news” for the community.
The reconstruction is estimated to cost $2.3 million, with federal funds covering 80 percent or $1.86 million. The local match of $466,000 will be split equally ($233,000 each) between the city of Walled Lake and RCOC. Tri-Party funds will be used to reduce the city’s contribution to $77,667.
“Either the city and/or the DDA (Downtown Development Authority) will assume the remainder of the costs, but neither group has formally discussed it yet,” Cureton said.
The Tri-Party program allows local communities to decide the nature of annual projects to be funded equally by the RCOC, a participating municipality and the county. Such projects usually involve small-scale work, such as widening intersections, adding turn lanes and widening roads. Money is allocated to participating communities based on road mileage and the number of accidents occurring annually in the community. Because some communities receive minimal funding based on these statistics, they are normally allowed to accumulate monies over a number of years for larger projects.
In the interim, the RCOC plans to perform “heavy maintenance” operations along the Pontiac Trail and West Maple Road intersection as soon as asphalt plants open in the spring, to buy time before the complete reconstruction.
Survey and design work will be conducted this year.
A public hearing will be scheduled sometime next year to inform the public and the area businesses about specific project plans.