By David Fleet
Groveland Twp.- By this fall two miles of a primary township road will be much smoother and safer.
In August 2019 the township board of trustees voted 4-0 to pave two miles of Barron Road. Trustee James Christopher was absent with notice.
At a cost of $5.3 million, the process of paving Barron Road between Groveland to Perryville roads has started. The project was expanded by an additional mile during the August meeting.
The federal aid will pay for 80 percent of the project, the Road Commission for Oakland County and the township will split the remaining 20 percent of the cost.
“They (RCOC) pave about one mile of road in Oakland County every year and there’s about 700 miles (of unpaved road) to choose from,” said Bob DePalma, township supervisor. “It’s a long laborious process so this opportunity to get this (additional mile) squeezed in here is a good deal for the township.”
There’s about $3 million in the township infrastructure fund, where the $530,000 has been set aside for the project, he said. The infrastructure account, established in 2009, includes funds earmarked for projects such as road paving, property development and emergency reserves. A transfer from the infrastructure account requires board approval.
The extra money for Barron Road was made available from the Local Federal Fund Exchange program, a County Road Association-developed program that allows a county road agency, like the Road Commission for Oakland County to sell its highly-regulated federal Surface Transportation Program Rural funds for more flexible non-federal dollars to another county road agency at a mutually agreed upon rate.
“They want to pave the whole road in 2021 and it will be insurmountably saver then it is now,” he said. “There are lot of hills and dips on the Barron Road. A couple of them are really high and to meet the federal aid requirements they try to bring the high spots down as low as they can. It will be a much safer road.”
To meet the federal standards some trees will be cut along the road and low spots filled in to improve sight lines of drivers.
Jeff O’Brien, design engineer for the RCOC along with other representatives attended a November 2019 meeting for residents that live on Barron Road or that could be impacted by the project. Included in the project will be a center turn lane at Grange Hall and Barron roads and a mix of shoulders, curb and gutters.
Barron Road carries about 840 cars per day.
“The road (qualifies) for rural funding in the county,” said O’Brien. “Barron Road is a Primary road on the county paving plan for past two decades and was a priority for the township. We have a very small rural area in the county where the (federal) funding can be used.”
Federal funding is set for the Primary roads, like Barron which goes from the south side of the township to the north side, he said.
A Primary Road is a designation by state and federal officials.
“Impact to the environment will be minimized,” he added. “Many of these ditches have not been touched in decades.”
A total of 15 foot of elevation will be cut from the hill just south of the Perryville Road intersection. Every driveway of the about 20 impacted by the project will receive an apron. The ditches will be reconstructed and culverts will be replaced.