By: Benjamin J. Gohs, Associate Editor
The Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners recently discussed the possibility of beginning and ending construction on Boyne City-Charlevoix Road next year. Charlevoix County Commissioner Chris Christensen (R-District 2) broached the subject, during the board’s regular Wednesday Sept. 28, meeting, of possibly doing all construction on Boyne City-Charlevoix Road next year instead of having the road built in sections.[private]
“When the original road millage that was requested was put out in 2006 … (and) failed at that time, the quoted bid … was somewhere around $5 million,” he said.
The new estimate to complete the 10 remaining miles of road, not including the three miles which have already been reconstructed, is approximately $5.4 million.
“What I would suggest, or I would at least encourage this board … allow the road commission to bid the whole project and get it done,” Christensen said. “The cost to do this is increasing at astronomical rates – you don’t know what the future’s going to hold. You don’t know what the oil rates are going to be. Now in its third year, the Charlevoix County Road Millage will raise approximately $2 million next year. Also, federal monies totaling $1 million have been earmarked for a section of the road near Horton Bay. Christensen also mentioned the possibility of working with MDOT on the timing of the tentative plan to make changes to the intersection of Boyne City-Charlevoix Road and U.S. 31 for safety reasons.
“The sheriff’s got some considerations for the U.S. 31 junction. If we could time all that together we might be able to get that done,” he said. “As far as the funding goes, I think through my newly acquired understanding of the audit, I think there are ways we can go about this.” Christensen said perhaps the county could work with some local municipalities to leverage some of the funding necessary to complete the road.
“(What’s) to say we can’t go to the City of Charlevoix and the City of Boyne City and say ‘Hey, if we can get this road done … in its entirety in 2012, would you be willing to forego your collection portion that year so that we could apply, basically the full $2 million toward that,” he said. Christensen said he believes the actual gap between monies raised and monies needed could be as low as $1 million, assuming, as with road projects in the past, there is a nearly 28 percent overestimation of costs. “The efficiencies you’re going to gain by doing the full 10 miles in one swoop: you’re going to be able to bid all the tonnage for the asphalt in one shot; you’re going to be able to bid the mobilization all at one time instead of having to pay for two or three separate mobilizations by doing it in parts; the county already has the millage levied, so if you wanted to think of it in terms of a loan, we could collect money back down the road in the 13th or 14th year of tax collection,” he said. “I think we really want to take a hard look at finishing this road and getting it behind us.”
Christensen added, “This is the last road that can’t be done by one collection of that millage. All the other roads remaining on that list can be done in their entirety in a collection.” Charlevoix County Commissioner Shirlene Tripp (R-District 1) said, “The last few roads have come in a lot less that what they (were budgeted).”
Charlevoix County Commissioner Rich Gillespie (R-District 6) said Boyne City-Charlevoix Road is an embarrassment to the county. “I think it should be done as soon as possible,” he said. “And, if we can help do that I think we should.”
Christensen said if action is to be taken, it must be done soon because the bid process for the federal portion of the monies will begin this December. “If the Boyne City Road got done in 2012, just think of how much nicer it would make for our bicycle path,” Tripp said. Charlevoix County Board Chairman Joel Evans (R-District 4) said it was definitely “food for thought” and urged everyone to work together on the matter.
“We’ve been frugal and we’ve been smart, and aside from the tax cut we just voted in tonight, another way to look at this is we are giving these tax dollars back to the county,” Christensen said. “We can improve the road, which leads to economic development.” Christensen suggested looking at some of the county’s investment funds for possible road dollars.
No decision was made on the subject, but discussion is expected to continue at future meetings.[/private]