Area representatives meet to split $3.2M

ATLANTA – Area road commission representatives met Friday to split an estimated $3.2 million in Statewide Transportation Improvement Program funds among eight Northeast Michigan counties. But cooperation was much in evidence as 27 attendees worked through a series of spreadsheets, as if solving a giant Sudoku puzzle.

The Region 9 Rural Task Force meeting was held in the conference room at the Montmorency Road Commission Facility. The funds came through the Federal Service Transportation and Authorization Bill and the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.

“This is a first come, first served program state wide so you don’t want to wait long,” said Nico Tucker, a representative with the North East Michigan Council of Governments, who led the group through the process and answered questions.

Jerry Smigleski, manager of Presque Isle Road Commission chaired the meeting, which included Cheboygan, Crawford, Oscoda and Otsego counties.

Each county presented a list of prioritized projects for this year through 2018, most of which was discussed in public hearings last month.

Although many representatives brought calculators with them to refine their figures, others said they were somewhat confused by the process and were learning as they followed along.

The first round involved priority projects for 2014, followed by rounds for additional years in the future.

As Tucker filled in figures on a complex spreadsheet projected a giant screen, highlighted red cells began to disappear, indicating numbers were balancing.

As of 12 p.m., Alcona County was able to keep approximately $139,000 in funds it was not able to spend last year, because of a project hold up. A new law states that funding no longer can be held over from a previous year, but the amount was within allocation guidelines, giving them a total of $534,870 for rural road improvements this year.

Alpena County received $386,999 in STP funds toward a resurfacing project on Werth Road, from Spruce to Hubbard Lake roads, Orcutt said.

Presque Isle will have $431,897 on hand and will spend a portion of it on improvements to E 634 west of Posen to Fourth Street.

However, Montmorency was carrying a deficit of $374,206 from 2013, as a result of swapping a project with another county. In the end, its allocation of 2014 STP funds reduced its deficit to $14,000.

When the first round was over, the group looked at the spread sheet totals only to discover $154,000 remaining. Of that, Alcona received $24,558; Alpena $23,412, Montmorency $20,820 and Presque Isle $25,179.

Billi Edmonds, executive director of the Thunder Bay Transportation Authority, also was on hand, making sure funding for transit improvements were allocated to each county in its expanding service area.

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