The Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) is in the process of mailing out letters to municipalities urging them to use their banked Tri-Party Program funding.
In effect since 1989, the Tri-Party program allows local communities to decide the nature of annual road improvement 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 municipality. Most municipalities are allowed to accumulate monies over a number of years for larger projects.
There’s currently about $7 million in unused money in the Tri-Party Program fund, which includes all three sources of funds, but does not include 2012 dollars. The purpose of sending the letters to municipalities is to encourage local communities to utilize these funds for needed road repairs or improvements and to identify future road projects.
“We want them to designate their dollars for something — the county commission doesn’t want a lot of money sitting,” said RCOC Spokesperson Craig Bryson. “The Tri-Party program was viewed as a valuable project, but if the dollars accumulate it would suggest that’s not the case or they haven’t selected a project.”
In Waterford Township, $947,000 in Tri-Party funds had accumulated, of which about $407,000 has been earmarked toward projects over the last two years. A Dixie Highway drainage project to mitigate road flooding is about to get underway with the help of Tri-Party funding.
“We’ve been waiting to get that done for several years,” said Waterford Building and Engineering Director Doug Bradley. “We plan to have it under construction in February or March hopefully.”
According to RCOC Programming Manager Tom Noechel, a number of asphalt resurfacing projects were completed in Waterford during 2010 and a right turn lane project on Crescent Lake at M-59 in Waterford finished up in 2011 with Tri-Party funds.
About $547,000 is currently left in Waterford’s Tri-Party account.
Bradley is currently pouring over a list of potential projects to determine which is most cost-beneficial, but hasn’t nailed one down.
“We haven’t made that decision yet,” Bradley said.
Commerce Township has used up its Tri-Party funds by allocating dollars to several projects either scheduled for 2012 or recently completed.
“Commerce currently has a zero balance because it has been using banked dollars on a number of projects or committed the allocation to various projects,” Noechel said.
A $405,000 allocation was made toward the new M-5/Martin Parkway/Pontiac Trail roundabout that opened late last year. A paving project is scheduled for Cooley Lake Road between Carey and Duck Lake roads in 2012; and a major resurfacing project along Commerce Road east of Carroll Lake Road to Union Lake Road also is slated for 2012.
According to RCOC Managing Director Dennis Kolar, the Tri-Party Program has been a popular and valuable funding tool for the completion of numerous improvements to the county road network. Many projects such as drainage, gravel, resurfacing, reconstruction, widening, turn signals and turn lanes would not have been possible without this program. Therefore, the RCOC is compelling all communities with large available Tri-Party balances to commit these funds to a specific project by April 1, 2012.
“If they don’t have the money for a specific project, then they need to select another project, but it must be done within the 24 month period,” Bryson said.
Letters were sent to each Oakland County municipality stating their Tri-Party Program balance as of Jan. 1, 2012. The figure does not include any 2012 Tri-Party Program funds.
The county and RCOC are investigating ways to utilize uncommitted funds in order to best serve the county as a whole; therefore, the RCOC is requesting local communities to approve a board or council resolution committing any available Tri-Party Program balance to a specific project that can be constructed in the next 24 months if the intent is to use this money.
The following are Tri-Party Program fund balances for the lakes area communities, according to county documents:
• Commerce, $0;
• Highland, $0;
• Milford Village, $4,445;
• Milford Township, $0;
• Orchard Lake Village, $66,460;
• Walled Lake, $124,355;
• Waterford, $547,327;
• West Bloomfield, $903,818;
• White Lake, $0;
• Wixom, $0;
• Wolverine Lake, $7,362.