Funds secured for road improvements in Keego Harbor, Orchard Lake and Sylvan Lake

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published July 30, 2021

 The Oakland County Board of Commissioners has granted Keego Harbor, Orchard Lake and Sylvan Lake funding to help with road improvement projects.

The Oakland County Board of Commissioners has granted Keego Harbor, Orchard Lake and Sylvan Lake funding to help with road improvement projects.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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OAKLAND COUNTY — When it comes to road conditions, municipalities across the state can use all the help that they can get, and a few local ones are in line to get some.

According to a press release, $14,800 was secured from Oakland County to improve and repair roads in Orchard Lake, Keego Harbor and Sylvan Lake.

On June 17, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution sponsored by Commissioner Kristen Nelson that helped secure the funds via Oakland County’s Local Road Improvement Program.

Nelson represents District 5, which includes Keego Harbor, Orchard Lake Village and Sylvan Lake, as well as portions of West Bloomfield Township and Waterford.

The funds are expected to assist with road maintenance requirements and other road repairs.

According to the release, Orchard Lake plans to use $5,215 to help with drainage improvements at the edge and to re-gravel edges for safe travel on Old Orchard Trail, with Keego Harbor expecting to use $5,182 to help with the restoration of various local roads.

Sylvan Lake’s intention is to use $4,403 to help with the removal and replacement of areas of deteriorated local asphalt streets.

According to Nelson, each municipality goes through an application process in which a brief description of a local road improvement project or maintenance project is provided.

A formula that takes into account factors such as census and crash data helps determine the funds allocated for each municipality.

National relief for road projects could also be on the way with the recent passage of the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act in Congress.

That bill was awaiting a vote in the Senate at press time.

Nelson recognizes that the resolution adopted by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners is not a sweeping solution to the condition of some local roads.

“Investments in our local roads continue to be under-funded by the state of Michigan, and road funding can be quite difficult to grasp,” Nelson said. “The law places the primary responsibilities for road funding on the state and non-county local units of government. And while I’m happy and pleased that Oakland County is doing their part to help out our local municipalities with this Local Road Improvement Program, we also recognize that it is a Band-Aid solution. We know that the keys to fixing our roads and infrastructure long-term at this point lies significantly with the national infrastructure bill being discussed in Congress right now.”

Nelson elaborated on the INVEST in America Act.

“I believe that it could be a game-changer, and I say that because the amount of money that would go towards fixing that crumbling infrastructure and roads is significant,” she said. “It’s the largest pot of money that we’ve ever really had at the table when it comes to looking at repairing and fixing — more specifically, fixing our crumbling roads.”

Despite her opinion that the INVEST in America Act is the long-term key to help fix roads and infrastructure, Nelson still expressed concerns.

“Unfortunately, at this point, with the outdated and crumbling roads and infrastructure that we have, it’s almost a day late and a dollar short,” she said. “I’m an advocate to remain positive, but this is something that we’ve neglected for quite some time; not just Oakland County, not just the state of Michigan, but across the United States.”

According to the release, the Local Road Improvement Plan ensures that the county’s investment in roads is multiplied by requiring local municipalities to match funding from Oakland County.

Even with her understanding that county funds aren’t a cure-all for fixing local roads, Nelson shared a positive perspective about the funds distributed via the Local Road Improvement Plan.

“What makes this program great and successful is it allows our local communities to choose road repair projects and road maintenance that are important and are priorities for them,” she said. “When it comes to the money component, it’s (going to) look different, based upon the projects.”

According to the release, the Local Road Improvement Plan was launched in 2016 and has “driven an estimated $108 million investment in local roads across the county.”

Orchard Lake Director of City Services Gerry McCallum shared thoughts about the Local Road Improvement Plan funds.

“The additional road funding provided by Oakland County through the Local Road Improvement Program allows us to provide safe and stable means for residents to access the commercial shopping district and for members of the Orchard Lake Country Club,” McCallum stated via the press release.

Keego Harbor Mayor Brian Lampl also included a statement about the resolution adopted by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.

“We continue to restore roads in Keego Harbor, without placing an increased financial burden on our residents,” Lampl stated via the release. “The funding that the Oakland County Board of Commissioners granted us for this year will be used to advance our efforts to improve our aging local roads.”

According to the release, in 2017 the Board of Commissioners’ Local Road Improvement Plan received national recognition when it was selected for a National Association of Counties Achievement Award in the category of Community and Economic Development.

“The continuation of this program is wonderful for our community,” Sylvan Lake City Manager John Martin stated in the release. “The board’s support helps us fill the gap left from decreased funding from the state, allowing us to make improvements to our streets.”

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