Extra road funding help

Every little bit helps, and Dickinson County will be getting some extra road funding help this year.

Because the state had a better-than-expected budget year, lawmakers had the enjoyable task of deciding where to spend this extra money.

Wisely, they chose to use the money to help repair the state’s crumbling roadway system.

As part of the state’s fiscal year 2014 state budget, the Legislature created the special Roads and Risk Reserve Fund using $230 million in existing state revenue.

One-half of the funds were available for appropriation on Oct. 1, 2013 and the other half could be appropriated for roads on Feb. 1.

This funding is in addition to $121.3 million from the state General Fund used to fully match available federal transportation funds.

Locally, Dickinson County will receive $775,000 to repave some 2 1/2 miles of County Road 569 south of the Cazolla Road intersection. The money will provide for restoration and repaving, along with culvert replacement and guardrail upgrades or replacement.

James Harris, Jr., Dickinson County Road Commission superintendent of operations, explains the importance of the project.

“Foster City/Waucedah Road is a vital link for the motoring public and the logging/trucking industry as well, because it is the only north-south connector between U.S. 2 and M-69 on the east side of Dickinson County,” Harris said. “The Michigan Legislature and our Senator Casperson and Rep. McBroom have been working along with other state officials to decide where the $115 million dollar surplus monies would be appropriated and we are extremely pleased that the Dickinson County Road system is a recipient of a portion of these surplus dollars.”

“Due to low funding levels, road commissions across the state have been struggling to do anything more than basic maintenance and small paving jobs on the county road system, so this funding is a very welcome and appreciated fix,” Harris said.

Besides County Road 569, other Upper Peninsula projects include:

– $400,000 to repair Connors Road in Alger County

– $300,000 for Highway 44 in Alger County

– $225,000 for County Road 577 in Menominee County.

– $300,000 for County Road 577 in Menominee County.

– $800,000 for County Road 498 in Schoolcraft County.

– $3,900,000 for repaving U.S. 2 in Schoolcraft County.

We realize that repaving a small portion of a roadway in the rural part of the county will not satisfy all of our road repair needs.

However, it’s encouraging to know that when there is good budget news on the state level that lawmakers are not forgetting the basic transportation needs of the local folks.