Gravel road options discussed

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published April 10, 2019

 OAKLAND TOWNSHIP —The state of the township’s 44 miles of unpaved roads is of great concern to residents and township officials.

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP —The state of the township’s 44 miles of unpaved roads is of great concern to residents and township officials.

Photo by Linda Shepard

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OAKLAND TOWNSHIP —The state of the township’s 44 miles of unpaved roads is of great concern to residents and township officials.

“They are bad. We all know they are bad,” Oakland Township Trustee Robin Buxar said.

“This is a very serious problem for our residents — and for firetrucks and emergency vehicles,” Trustee Lana Mangiapani said during a March 26 discussion.  

The Road Commission for Oakland County is responsible for Oakland Township’s roads. According to Steve Prinz, a contract administrator for the Road Commission, a shortage of gravel and a significant price increase in the cost of gravel are expected for this year and in the future.

Last year, the township dedicated $165,000 to gravel funding.

“We spent $165,000, and our residents are saying ‘our roads are terrible,’” Buxar said. “We’d like to try a different approach.

“My suggestion would be to look at the gravel on the areas that suffer the worst, which are the approaching pavement ends,” Buxar said. “It turns into a washboard pothole mess, like on Silverbell Road before it turns into Gallagher.”

Trustee Frank Ferriolo agreed.

“The transition areas are where we get all the ruts and bumps,” he said. “They are the terrible areas we all deal with, when you go from pavement to gravel.”    

“I’m not sure gravel is the solution that will give us the most bang for the buck,” Oakland Township Treasurer Jeanne Langlois said. “I wonder if we (should) concentrate on grading — grading the roads when they need it, instead (of when it is) on the schedule. Let’s grade them more. Maybe we’ll find we need less gravel. We might decide that more gravel isn’t the answer.”

Limestone has been used on high-traffic, unpaved Oakland Township roads.

“I am a fan of limestone,” Township Supervisor Mike Bailey said. “It has some negatives, like when it breaks down it is harder to grade. But it is a better road and it lasts longer. It is a little bit more expensive.”

Bailey also suggested increasing the grading frequency for gravel roads.

By a 6-1 vote, the Board of Trustees approved $110,000 of budgeted funds for gravel, with Bailey voting no.     

“We all have our theories about what needs to be done,” Bailey said. “I agree the transition areas are a problem. But I can’t believe the Road Commission hasn’t figured that out and found a way to focus on those areas first. I don’t believe we have the right experts in the room to make these calls. I hate buying less gravel this year compared to what we had last year,  The right thing in my mind is to order the most gravel as we think we are going to use, and if we don’t use it this year, we can use it next year. What is the harm of having more gravel as opposed to less gravel?”

The board also agreed to set a meeting with the Road Commission to discuss gravel road options.    

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