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$447K grant sought for road improvements

January 23, 2013 - A grant application seeking $446,648 in funding for improvements to W. Burdick St./Seymour Lake Rd. has been submitted to the Oakland County Federal Aid Committee.

Now, the only question is will it be approved?

"We should know by May or June if this project is funded," wrote Oxford Village Manager Joe Young in a Jan. 16 e-mail.

Local officials are looking to make significant improvements to a 1,637-foot stretch of this road between Ashley Way in the village and S. Waterstone Dr. in the township.

The project includes resurfacing the road (which is in "very poor condition"); reducing the height of what's commonly known as 'cemetery hill' to improve sight distance for drivers; installing curb and gutter along the entire length of the road; widening the road at the west end; and installing a storm water drainage system.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be $558,310.

If officials receive the $446,648 grant they're hoping for, the remaining $111,662 would be shared by the village and township. The township's share would be approximately $20,000 and the rest would be paid by the village because the majority of the project is within its boundaries, according to Young.

Don Brantley, superintendent of the village's Department of Public Works (DPW), indicated the road's asphalt surface is "long past" its "life expectancy."

"It's been in bad shape for at least five years," he said. "We've been doing a lot of patch work up there. Last year wasn't as bad because we had such a mild winter . . . But every year when we've had heavy frost, the road just crumbles."

Having curb and gutter along with a storm water drainage system will help eliminate "washouts along the edge of the road" and the accumulation of gravel where W. Burdick and West streets intersect with the Polly Ann Trail, according to Brantley. Both problems occur during heavy rains and both require extra maintenance by the DPW.

Brantley believes most of these improvements will ultimately result in less work and expense for his department.

"Over time, we're going to save some money in our budget," he said. "It will be a benefit to our department as far as maintenance."

The project also involves lowering cemetery hill by 2 feet along a 500-foot stretch. This reduction in height would begin near the village's West St. and the hill would "gradually" be 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 halt vehicles – at the bottom of cemetery hill, it's believed increasing stopping sight distance will help make both pedestrians and motorists safer.

According to the grant application, that stretch of roadway does experience quite a heavy volume of traffic. A 42-hour traffic count was conducted between Dec. 12-14, 2012. It recorded 4,709 eastbound vehicles and 4,858 westbound vehicles as the daily volume.

"It's a heavily-traveled road today versus 20 years ago," said Brantley, who's been with the DPW since the 1980s.

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.
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