The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Township board votes to stick with road plan



Ironwood TownshipIronwood Township will continue to repair its roads according to its road plan after the board of trustees decided Monday not to divert money from this year’s repair fund for extra paving work on Lake Road at Little Girl’s Point.

“I think we should stay with our road plan, I hate to say it. I feel for them out there, I really do, but it’s going to (be) better than it is — better than it was before the flood — with the 18 culvert repairs and the patching” Clerk Mary Segalin said. She said the township voters approved a road millage on the basis of the township established repair schedule, and she didn’t feel comfortable diverting too much from the plan using the voter-approved millage funds.

Gogebic County Road Commission Engineering Manager Darren Pionk agreed the decision to stick with the repair schedule and only patch the Lake Road washouts that happened during the July 11 storm was still a good option.

“You talk about patching … there’s patches from the ‘13 flood we had out there,” Pionk said. “It’s not the end of the world (to avoid diverting the money). It’s just a suggestion. It would be great to do it, but we also understand you have millage money and you have priorities already set. … There’s going to be no ill feelings one way or the other.”

With the decision not to divert funds to Lake Road, the upcoming construction will largely center around the work planned for last year before the July storm and the first year of a two-year resurfacing of Section 12 Road between U.S. 2 and Sunset Road. The township funds its portion of road improvement costs through a combination of revenue generated from the road millage and stumpage fees.

Pionk had approached the board about the possibility of the township contributing funds to help pay for a process called “gap paving,” which Pionk described as reconstructing the whole Lake Road roadway over a stretch containing some of the more clustered washout sites.

With the decision not to use gap paving, Pionk said the county will simply pave over the eight washout sites being more fully repaired this year — along with the 10 worked on last year.

While gap paving would be cheaper overall, Pionk said the Federal Highway Administration — which he said is ultimately funding most of the work — rejected the idea as it only funds work that is the direct result of storm damage.

“They’re saying, ‘We only pay for what has been damaged because of the flood event,’” Pionk said Monday.

The Road Commission had proposed splitting the cost for the work with the township, with each entity paying roughly $40,000 each for the gap paving.

Had the township chosen to contribute to the project, Pionk said it would have meant less work was done elsewhere in the township. The primary cut would have come from a reduction in repaving work scheduled for Section 12 Road, although it would have simply meant more of the road would have been paved in 2018.

The decision not to divert funds to Lake Road means roughly an extra quarter of a mile of Sunset Road will be repaired this year, with the rest of the project scheduled for completion next year.

When asked why the road commission couldn’t divert money from its budget for the gap paving, Pionk said the commission will likely have spent around $800,000 of its money on the Lake Road repairs by the end of the 2017 construction season, and couldn’t justify diverting more money unless absolutely necessary.

“It’s going to take us close to 10 years to take back,” Pionk said, referring to the loan the funds came from.

With the decision not to use gap paving, the other portions of Lake Road will be paved on the county’s previous schedule — which could be sometime in the next five to seven years, Pionk said.

Even if gap paving was used, Pionk said only parts of the six miles of Lake Road at Little Girl’s Point would have been repaved.

‘We can’t do all 6 miles because I’ve got another 60 culverts to replace out there,” he said.

In other action:

—The board approved several motions formally ending the state SAW grant in the township, including a state-mandated sewer rate increase that varies depending on individual usage.

—The board tabled a request from the Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress to extend the tax break on Milltrace apartment from five years to 15 years until a formal request was made in writing.

—Robert Segalin was hired as part-time summer help for the township. Mary Segalin abstained from the vote to avoid a conflict of interest.

—A request for a well variance was tabled until more information could be provided regarding the township’s obligation to the property owner.

—The board approved amending Resolution 2017-5 to clarify who gets reimbursed for travel to state conferences.


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