Road commission discusses emergency repair fund possibilities

ALPENA Although the county could receive emergency road repairs funds from the state, the money could be hard to spend, members of the Alpena County Road Commission said during their meeting Tuesday.

A portion of the meeting was spent discussing $100 million in special funds to repair winter damage. Of that, Alpena is receiving a little under $200,000, Managing Director Larry Orcutt said.

“You can triple that and it’s not as major of an impact as we’d like,” he said.

Funding for larger projects also can be an issue because it takes a while to get projects ready for construction, although there are plenty available, Orcutt and others said.

If money was available Feb. 1, and must be spent before the year’s end, it becomes a challenge to find contractors staffed up, ready and available to perform the work during the summer season, Orcutt said.

“Overlays can be done quickly, but full design projects require environmental impact studies and surveys,” he said.

Another issue is that most county roads have been well maintained, and because of light traffic, wear more slowly, Commissioner Fred Sterns said. So it’s hard to get the public to support new millages for bigger projects, because the problems aren’t apparent, he said.

“Right now we don’t have a road that you can’t drive on,” Sterns said. “We don’t have a hole you can’t patch, compared to streets in Detroit and Ann Arbor.”

Meanwhile, the board approved payment of $259,349 in bills for March, and gave the go-ahead for a series of other road improvement projects.

Superintendent Curt Gonyea said Pyramid Paving will mill and overlay pavement on Werth Road, from Mud Creek to Spruce Road this summer for a bid price of $737,374. The project is expected to be completed June 15.

The same company will put an overlay on Werth Road, from Spruce to Hubbard Lake roads, and install guard rails for $447,740.

The commissioners also awarded a $61,049 bid to MacArthur Construction for excavation, curb and gutter, and resurfacing of Pearl Road this summer.

Other summer projects include:

* a $23,000 dust control program for Alpena Township

* resurface a 200-foot section of Halley Road near Kline Road for $30,000

* resurface Wayne Road from U.S. 23 to Piper Road and improve drainage for $250,000

* provide dust control for Wellington Township for $3,000

* provide dust control for Wilson Township for $34,000

Orcutt said he also hopes to combine several alternative funding sources and apply for a $1 million grant to replace the Bagley Street Bridge, with 2017 set as a target date for construction. The alternative sources require a 20 percent match, so the commission is hoping to tap some economic development funds.

The commission’s next meeting at 1400 N. Bagley St., will be 3 p.m., May 6.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5693.

Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.