Starting this year, the Genesee County Road Commission (GCRC) is investing 200 percent more money into local roads compared to 2018.
The GCRC’s Local Road Allocation Fund is money earmarked for townships to use for paving, maintaining and/or improving local roads. In 2018, the fund had $800,000. In 2019, it increased the allocation to $2.4 million.
Director Fred Peivandi, who became acting director February 2018 and managing director August
2018, said the increase in allocation funds was a combination of more money from the Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF) and Peivandi himself seeing that local roads needed help. He was able to take additional monies from the fund balance and put it into the allocation fund.
Former Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law in November 2015 a $1.2-billion road-funding package. The plan has received much criticism because the plan doesn’t give the full $1.2 billion to transportation until 2021. Peivandi said Snyder’s plan has increased GCRC funding by approximately 8 to 10 percent on an annual basis.
In order to use this money, the state requires that townships put up matching funds.
Fenton Township was required to pay to get the matching $117,936 offered by the county this year. The township spent the money on limestone resurfacing on sections of Sharp Road, Smith Road and Thompson/Odell roads, along with constructing asphalt paved aprons on Odell Road and Ray Road.
“The increase in local road funding from the Genesee County Road Commission has helped Fenton Township to stretch its road improvement budget significantly. Six separate local road projects will be partially funded with Road Commission allocation dollars in 2019, as compared to three projects in 2018 and two in 2017,” said Thomas Broecker, operations manager/deputy clerk of Fenton Township.
The classification of “local roads” does not include primary roads, said Alexander Patsy programming and development engineer with the GCRC.
Primary roads are well-traveled section-line roads maintained by county funds. This includes Owen Road, Silver Lake Road, Linden Road, Fenton Road and more. Local roads generally have less volume. Two examples of local roads include Ripley and Fairbanks.
Subdivisions do not qualify for this allocation money because while they’re considered local roads, they are not section-line roads. Generally, section-line roads make up the grids in the townships, but the term also includes roads that allow access to varying neighborhoods, parcels, properties and other roads.
The GCRC does routine maintenance on subdivisions, such as filling potholes, but they do not fund higher-class projects such as resurfacing.
Patsy said the state has certain guidelines for how road commissions can spend their money, and the commission has to show that they aren’t directly funding more than 50 percent of projects on local roads. The GCRC expects townships to pay for construction costs and the commission pays for engineering costs and inspections.
Subdivisions are not considered local roads and do not qualify for Local Road Allocation Funds. These roads must be maintained, paved or improved by the township or by assessing the residents who live on that road.
In 2019, Argentine Township was allocated $136,000 by the GCRC.
Argentine Township spent $62,000 for limestone resurfacing for the section of Smith Road in that municipality with the total cost at $124,299.
While Fenton Township has a larger population, Argentine Township has more miles of section-line local roads. The GCRC determines how much money townships will receive with guidelines similar to the ACT 51 law. The amount is calculated based on 65 percent mileage and 35 percent population size.
The money in this fund does not accumulate over the years, and most townships use all of it every year. Townships can also transfer money earmarked for them if they aren’t planning to use all of it, or run out of matching fund dollars.
Argentine Township recently transferred $70,000 to Atlas Township.
Peivandi expects the 2020 allocation fund to be around $2.4 million, but said it will rise to $3 million in the coming years. They’re currently in the process of putting the budget together.