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State seeks sidewalk help



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Road work on Dixie between Telegraph and I-75 interchange in Springfield Township starts in April 2013. Photo by Trevor Keiser (click for larger version)
August 10, 2011 - Michigan Department of Transportation plans $20 million in Dixie Highway improvements, and is looking for local help with sidewalks.

"The way we would save the township money is we would pay for the design and construction oversight," said Lori Swanson, MDOT cost and scheduling engineer, at the July 19 meeting of the Independence Township Board. "It would be part of our job and you would get better bid prices than you would if you were to do this on your own."

"I think it's great when you have an opportunity like this," said Trustee David Lohmeier. "We're big on partnerships."

The project, which would cost the township around $700,000, is probably too expensive, said Trustee Larry Rosso.

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"It sounds like a great opportunity – but the reality is our budget. We have so many commitments that we must follow through on that are an even greater priority, that sometimes something has to give," Rosso said. "It doesn't look in my way of thinking within the realm of possibility at this time."

Trustee Neil Wallace said it could be possible if the township puts its financial house in order.

"The particular thing we need to get a better handle on in the budgeting process is these annual expenses. For us to be spending almost $300,000 in maintenance is out of whack," Wallace said. "This may be the fulcrum to get us to that."

The state plans to get to work on road improvements to Dixie Highway between I-75 south to Telegraph Road, April-November 2013.

The project includes mill and resurface, curb and gutter repair, signal upgrades, pedestrian ramp improvements, sewer repair, traffic signals, and sidewalk improvements, Swanson said.

Speaking to the board with Mark Loch of Orchard, Hilz, and McCliment Engineering, Swanson said the partnership would save the township 25-30 percent on sidewalks.

"We as a state will be repairing sidewalks that we impact with construction. We're going to look at minor opportunities to make connections where there is a goat path or nothing there today," Swanson said.

The state offered a three-part sidewalk project. The first would be the north side of Dixie from White Lake Road to Pine Ridge Drive, at a cost of $273,000. The south side of Dixie from White Lake to Pine Ridge would cost about $345,000.

A third section would be the north side of Dixie, Pine Ridge Drive to Big Lake Road, at a cost of $73,000. All sidewalks would be six-feet wide.

The goal is to stay within MDOT right of way, but if they go beyond that, they'll need permission from private property owners, she said.

Township Engineer Randy Ford of Hubble, Roth, and Clark recommended the township focus on the north side of Dixie Highway.

"In terms of intensity of development, the north side makes more sense," Ford said. "For the two sections (White Lake to Pine Ridge and Pine Ridge to Big Lake) it would cost $346,000."

The township board will decide at their Aug 16 meeting whether or not they want to participate in the project.

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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