February 26, 2014 - Oxford Village's hopes for getting federal funds to fix a badly-deteriorated 0.34-mile section of W. Burdick St. were recently dashed, but the hope for state funds is still alive thanks to state Rep. Brad Jacobsen.
"I'd say we've got better than a 50-50 chance," said Jacobsen (R-Oxford).
In early January, he sent a letter to the speaker of the state House requesting this village project be considered for any future supplemental road funding.
"I sit on the transportation committee, so I got word of it in advance of some other folks," Jacobsen said. "We were one of the first (requests) put in."
The village is hoping to get $378,000 through the state's Roads and Risks Reserve Fund (RRRF), created last year to deal with unexpected costs, to repair and improve a 1,795-foot stretch of W. Burdick St. from Ashley Way in the village to S. Waterstone Dr. in the township.
The fund started with $230 million. Half of it was earmarked last year for specific road and bridge projects.
On Feb. 20, it was announced the state Senate approved the supplemental appropriation of $100 million from the RRRF for road repairs. If approved by the state House and governor, the funds are to be distributed in the following manner – $39.1 million to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), $39.1 million to county road agencies and $21.8 million to municipalities.
"That narrowed the pool down a little bit (as far as available funding for communities like Oxford)," Jacobsen said.
If approved for RRRF monies, the village indicated it would provide 10 percent matching funds ($37,800) to cover preliminary engineering costs.
"It's a drawn-out process from start to finish and I don't want to get anybody's hopes up in case the whole thing blows up for one reason or another, but I think we've got a pretty good chance on this one," Jacobsen said.
This stretch of W. Burdick St., commonly referred to by locals as cemetery hill, is filled with a plethora of vehicle-rattling potholes and residents are complaining to both the township and village.
"I've lived in Oxford my entire life and that section of road by the cemetery has always been a problem," Jacobsen said.
This year, the area is particularly bad due to the record-breaking severe winter weather.
"It's, by far, one of the worst roads I ride on," said Jacobsen, who drives almost 1,000 miles per week.
He was actually thinking of having his wife, Teri, videotape the ride down cemetery hill and submit that to MDOT with his funding request.
The village's proposed improvement project consists of pulverizing in place the existing asphalt and resurfacing the road; constructing and connecting new drainage structures to the existing storm sewer system in order to effectively drain the roadway; lowering cemetery hill by 2 feet in order to improve stopping sight distance for motorists; installing curb and gutter; and widening the road from 22 to 24 feet.
Oxford was recently turned down by the Oakland County Federal Aid Committee for $302,445 in federal funds to do the project. There would have been a local match of $75,611.
According to Jacobsen, this is the second time he's applied for money from the state's RRRF. "I was pretty optimistic about it when I put in (for it) last fall," he said.
Compared to some of the other projects that carried $4 million and $8 million price tags, Oxford's request was "not a big project," so Jacobsen "thought we'd have a pretty good chance of getting (funding)."
The problem was more than 400 projects totalling $1.2 billion were submitted, but the state only allocated $115 million for transportation projects throughout Michigan, according to Jacobsen. A total of 103 state and local transportation projects were green-lighted for funding.
"Lots of desires and not enough money to go around," he said. "Everybody's got their hands out. There are lots of road projects that need to be done."
"This (time) I think we've got a better chance because they took care of a lot of the previous (projects) that were in the pipeline," Jacobsen noted.
When asked when the decision will be made, Jacobsen indicated he's not sure.
"It's up in the air," he said
Jacobsen explained that during the last round of RRRF funding, approximately two months elapsed between the time the requests were submitted and the time the winning projects were announced.
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.