Samaria Road. After many meetings and telephone calls, I believe we are close to a solution for Samaria Road. The Road Commission engineers and several contractors have come up with an innovative combination of techniques that has the potential of not only making the road safe for next spring, but also keep the road in smooth drivable condition for the next 5 years - and - at a reasonable cost ($800,000 in 2011 and an additional $600,000 of maintenance over the next 5 years). The rub is that no local entity or combination of entities has even that reasonable cost.
The attempt to get the Michigan Department of Transportation to take back the road is faltering because if MDOT takes over the road and improves it, MDOT must apply its specifications which drives up the cost to over $20 million, which it does not have.
The solution which appears to be shaping up is a negotiated agreement between MDOT, the Monroe County Road Commission, Bedford Township (and perhaps other townships segments of the road go through and perhaps the County itself) under which MDOT agrees to use the combination of techniques recommended as an "experiment" in exchange for the Road Commission giving up its about $18,000 it receives each year in Act 51 dollars for the road for a negotiated number of years and contributing some labor, as well as Bedford Township contributing a negotiated amount for a negotiated number of years as well.
Obviously, the foregoing indicates that there is much negotiation that needs to successfully take place to make this happen, but the desire and intent to do so appears to be there on the part of all parties. The recommended treatment would be considered "experimental" because although each of the components of the plan is a proven technique, the combination of techniques apparently has never been used together, much less on a road in this bad a condition. But, the parties believe it could work, and if proven, is a combination that could be applied to an untold number of other roads throughout the state that need attention. Stay tuned, as we are now attempting to get the meeting set up where the negotiation would take place.
Lavoy Road Bridge. Also, negotiations are underway to get the closed bridge on Lavoy Road near Telegraph replaced with Economic Development money controlled by MDOT. An application is being prepared by the Road Commission (with the cooperation of many, including the businesses affected by the bridge closure) to apply for the funds. If successful, construction would likely not occur until 2012.
Progress on Long-term Solution. The long-term solution to transportation funding is exactly what I am working on as the lead person on a work group. We are almost done on the first step of determining just how much money do we need to raise to maintain our roads in reasonable condition. It is a more complex task than most appreciate, and I am not about to simply take someone's word that we need "$3 billion more" or whatever. I expect that this is something we will take legislative action on in the fall, along with other parts of the expected "Governor Snyder's message on infrastructure".