With the resurfacing of the M-59 corridor set to begin sometime in the next couple months, the White Lake Township Community Development Department was hoping to see the pathways along M-59 repaired, as well. However, at a Tuesday, July 19 Board of Trustees meeting, the township’s governing body received an update from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) that this would not be an option.
“We were told that it’s not within the scope of the project, and there’s not funding available to repair or relocate the pathways,” said Sean O’Neil, the township’s planning director.
According to O’Neil, the township has been concerned about the pathways along M-59 for some time.
“They’re in rough shape,” O’Neil said. “There has been very little maintenance since they were built in the 1970s by MDOT. They still refer to them as shoulders, but more pedestrians and bicyclists use them than cars. We consider them pathways as they are used as pathways.
And the pathways are now at a point in their “life cycle” that they need to be replaced.
O’Neil said ideally it would be better to relocate or rebuild the pathways in another location some 10 feet or more back from the road.
However, with limited funds for local communities that are fighting for road and pathway dollars, completely relocating the pathways may not be feasible.
“There is a struggle between deciding to fix and prolong the life of the pathway or just removing and relocating the pathway. But that second option is way more expensive,” O’Neil said.
Although MDOT officials say there will be no construction on the pathways this season, they have offered to put the township in contact with their economic development team for grant aid. O’Neil said hopefully the township will get some aid to improve the pathways.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s the state’s responsibility to maintain the pathways (because) they built them, but that hasn’t happened,” he said. “Hopefully we can work with them to improve the quality of the pathways down M-59 so that people have access to a decent non-motorized pathway.”