Funding uncertain for road project

LINCOLN – The Alcona County Road Commission is trying to speed up the repair of a section of Black River Road in order to make sure the funding doesn’t disappear, an official said.

“We need to get the money obligated by the state by Sept. 15 and construction must be completed by July 2014,” Jesse Campbell, general manager for Alcona County Road Commission, said about a 2.17 mile stretch of pavement between US-23 and F-41.

“It looked like they were going to pull the funding for this,” Campbell said. “The asphalt road, put down in 1984, is too narrow and is deteriorating. It’s exceeded its life span dramatically.”

Before new asphalt can be put down, drainage issues at the road’s intersection with US-23 will have to be resolved. The first step is to get the engineering design completed and submitted, he said. The initial project estimate is around $400,000. Construction could take place in the fall, but weather is difficult to predict at that time of year.

Tackling another troublesome stretch of road, the road commission accepted a bid of $375,000 from Huron Engineering and Surveying to rebuild an 0.89-mile section of Bamfield Road west of Au Sable Road. In five years, the hilly, curving segment has been the scene of nine accidents, including one that caused debilitating injuries, Campbell said.

“Bamfield Hill is so steep in icy conditions that you can’t slow down,” Campbell said.

A misalignment of curves also causes motorists to lose control.

The project is being funded in part by a special high-risk road grant, and improvements will include a realignment, new pavement, culverts, a side rail and better signage, Campbell said. Curtis Township will also contribute to the cost of improvements.

The Alcona County road commissioners also accepted a bid from J&J Contracting of Ithaca to install steel guardrails for $17,901 on the new timber bridge that crosses Sucker Creek west of US-23. The bridge was installed this winter and has been open.

Nine out of 11 Alcona County townships assess a property tax millage for road maintenance and improvements, he said.

“If it wasn’t for the township millages it wouldn’t be possible to complete what we had planned,” Campbell said.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.