November 21, 2012 - Grants are a lot like the lottery – you have to play to win.
Well, the Village of Oxford has decided to play and the payoff could be $368,000 in federal monies to help reconstruct and widen W. Burdick St. and chop 2 feet off what's commonly known as "cemetery hill." The township would also be included in the project with curb, gutter and drainage work along Seymour Lake Rd., which is what W. Burdick St. turns into.
"They're not things that we're dreaming up; they're badly needed improvements," said Robert Lavoie, president of the Pontiac-based Nowak & Fraus Engineers.
Last week, council voted 4-0 to authorize Nowak & Fraus to submit an application for grant monies to the Oakland County Federal Aid Committee. The firm is being paid up to $1,630 to do this by the January 20, 2013 deadline.
"I'm in favor of moving this ahead to see if we can get the grant," said village President Tom Benner.
If the application is successful – something that won't be known until March or April 2013 – the village wouldn't actually receive any federal funds until 2016.
However, the municipality could choose to begin work in 2014 by paying for the entire project up front, then be reimbursed for 80 percent of the construction costs when the grant money is released in 2016.
Of the estimated $529,000 project cost, the village would be expected to pay $141,361 and the township $19,639. The federal grant would cover the remaining $368,000.
With an expected life cycle of nine to 20 years, the village's portion of the project would extend from West St. to the westerly village limits, a total of 1,135 feet.
It would also encompass a 500-foot section of Seymour Lake Rd. in the township between the westerly village limits and S. Waterstone Dr.
The village's work will encompass reconstructing and widening the lanes of W. Burdick St., west of West St., from 11 feet to 12 feet, which is the "preferred standard."
It would also involve lowering cemetery hill by 2 feet along a stretch approximately 500 feet in length. Lavoie said this reduction in height would begin near the village's West St. and the hill would be "gradually" cut down heading west. The purpose of reducing the hill's height is to improve the "stopping sight distance" for vehicles traveling along that section of W. Burdick St.
Stopping sight distance is the distance a driver needs to be able to see in order to have adequate room to stop before colliding with something in the road such as a pedestrian in a crosswalk, a stopped vehicle or road debris. Having insufficient sight distance can adversely affect the safety or operations of a roadway or intersection.
Considering there's an actively used pedestrian crosswalk for the Polly Ann Trail – complete with flashing signals to alert and stop vehicles – at the bottom of cemetery hill, increasing stopping sight distance would make both pedestrians and motorists safer.
Lavoie noted safety improvements are always given more weight by the folks who review and approve these grant applications.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.