Wixom officials met with Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) representatives in a strategic planning session on March 2 to review fundamental road needs for the community.
The RCOC makes the rounds to communities every two years to discuss imperative issues involving federal and state funding, advances in traffic management, upcoming construction and projects in the respective community. The RCOC also asks the communities to rate its service.
Based on the discussion and through Assistant City Manager Tony Nowicki’s membership on the Oakland County Federal Aid Committee, roadway needs within Oakland County far exceed available resources.
“It was a sobering meeting,” Nowicki said. “The RCOC is funded in part by gas taxes and people are driving less and cars are getting better mileage so there’s less revenue for roads.”
The RCOC and city officials also discussed economic development and the subsequent trickle down effect on roadways.
“By way of new business (planning to move to) the Ford Plant and the number of potential employees — this would impact the road system,” Nowicki said.
Of the Wixom projects already submitted to the Federal Aid Committee for possible funding, none scored high enough to be considered. These projects include: reconstructing and widening Beck Road (12 Mile Road to West Road); reconstructing Beck Road (from Pontiac Trail to Maple Road); reconstructing West Maple Road (from Wixom Road to Hampton Road); and reconstructing West Road (from Beck Road to the city limits).
The Federal Aid Committee’s selection process is based on a point ranking system that ascribes points to those projects that will improve motorist safety and reduce traffic congestion the most. Only projects that score the highest points receive funding while numerous others go unfunded.
“We have $17 million available for $67 million in request so we don’t get too far down the list,” said Dennis Kolar, deputy managing director/county highway engineer for the RCOC. “There’s nothing we can do. Projects are not funded due to a lack of federal resources.”
Only the Oakland County Federal Aid Committee makes the decision on what projects are funded, not the RCOC.
Ranking includes pavement condition; crash data; traffic volume; and class of the road.
“Right now we have limited resources to improve traffic flow, pavement condition and safety, but the rating system is statewide and the best way to fund it because it’s objective,” Kolar said.
In the interim, the city will maintain roadways to ensure they are safe and passable.
“We will protect our assets, but significant repair work will eventually be needed,” Nowicki said. “We will continue to look at the roads submitted and if there are changes to conditions or traffic patterns, we will amend our application as appropriate.”
Currently the RCOC can’t determine a time table for any of the Wixom road improvement projects.