County Seat Newspaper
of Clare County

CCRC Director Offers Comprehensive Update

From Funding Sources to Costs, to Projects Completed


HARRISON – After the December budget briefing on transportation presented at Harrison City Hall by William Hamilton, senior financial analyst for the House Fiscal Agency, it was time to bring that information home to Clare County. Thus, Dewayne Rogers, Clare County Road Commission managing director, stepped up to bat.

Rogers started with a graphic of the proverbial “money tree” which he assured – despite a common public opinion that government agencies such as road commissions have money rained on them – was not shedding greenbacks on Clare County. He then moved on to describe the funding sources and their designated uses. Using a 2020 County Roads Association statewide graphic, he informed that $1,106,721,670 (59.4%) comes from State Sources; $209,370,352 (11.2%) from Federal Sources; $319,439,599 (17.1%) from Contributions from Local Units; $66,092,121 (23.5%) from Other Sources; and $162,073,572 (8.7%) from Charges for Services.

That source also cited typical county expenditures as Construction and Capacity Improvement as $61,171,278 (3.3%); Preservation and Structural Improvement $781,646,862 (42.1%); Routine Maintenance $527,243,093 (28.4%); Winter Maintenance (routine) $116,245,600 (6.3%); Trunkline Maintenance $159,165,210 *8.6%); Administrative $70,136,416 (3.8%) and Other $142,673,676 (7.7%). Rogers said he believed that, internally, Clare County is very close to those numbers.

The same source cited FY2020 MI Transportation Fund total gross receipts of $3,165,075,036. He also reiterated Williams’ breakdown of gasoline taxes, and using a base of $3.50 per gallon, and how the combined 68 cents of gasoline taxes (Michigan Gas Tax of 28.6 cents, Federal Gas Tax of 18.4 cents, of Michigan Sales Tax of 20.1 cents plus the designated 0.9 cent Environmental Regulatory Fee) get divvied up and disbursed as 41.5 cents to Roads; 6.6 cents to Transit; 19.0 cents to schools local government, other.

Rogers provided a breakdown of all the townships, listing miles of both the primary and county paved and gravel roads in each. He said primary roads, basically, are funded through the road commission, and local roads receive township contribution. Of the approximate 990 miles total, he said, about 70% of those roads are gravel – something he said is higher than average statewide.

At this point, Rogers interjected that with all his previous years working on I-75 and down south, until he took the job at the CCRC he hadn’t realized how hard a gravel road was to build and maintain.

“There’re different challenges with it, obviously, with your dust, spring thaw, all that stuff,” he said. “So, we have a big challenge with roughly 70%. We’re talking about each year chipping away at that 79% and maybe get it down toward 60%, and it’s more maintainable.”

Rogers went on to describe the wear and tear on the trucks that work year-round plowing snow, blading for brine, then rain again requires the trucks blade again. Add to that the cost of fuel, and the comparison of gravel road maintenance to the simple cost of plowing/shoulder maintenance for a paved road becomes readily apparent.

He also noted that if all 83 counties in the state received an equal share of the MTF funds, each would receive approximately 7% of the $6.5 billion. Rogers said the $7 million Clare County receives is actually about 0.61% while it represents 1.2% of the 83 counties.

“Mathematically, it doesn’t seem too fair, but we’re very rural, and the big counties are getting a lot,” he said, pointing out that annually Wayne County gets about a $106 million budget; Macomb County $74 million; and Oakland County $114 million. “They’ve got a lot of money to play with, but they also have urban roads, and their street systems are completely different animals: curbs, sewer systems.”

Another bit of data presented showed the annual estimates of resident population for Michigan counties from April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2022. Over that time frame, Clare County’s population grew from 30,857 to 31,128.

Rogers spent a fair amount of time describing the CCRC’s gravel/paving/bridge projects listing for 2023 which saw work done in Franklin (Arnold Lake Road asphalt/edging and Rodgers/Arnold Lake Road chip seal); Frost (Fir Mac Drive gravel, Harrison Avenue road stabilization, Long Lake widening/paving and Birch Road right-of-way clearing); Summerfield (Harding Avenue and Claroskee/Muskegon Road/Old State Avenue, Haskell Lake and Finley Lake chip seal, and Jackson Avenue gravel); Winterfield (Cook Avenue: federal project, shoulder widening, shoulder widening/overlay, gravel and asphalt overlay); Greenwood (Old State Avenue right-of way/drainage and Old State/Haskell Lake Road and Finley Lake Avenue chip seal); Hayes (Cranberry Lake Road gravel, Hampton widening/paving, Cranberry Lake Road asphalt overlay, Ball Avenue chip and fog, Clarence Road right-of-way clearing, ditching/gravel); and Hamilton (Rodgers Avenue federal project, and Arnold Lake Road chip seal). Rogers said that one-page list was a typical good summer of projects. Then he showed the second page of the list. He quickly noted the CCRC had “knocked most of them out of the park,” adding that “this was one of the biggest years we may ever have as far as projects go.”

“We had three excavators going, we had just about all our machinery going,” he said. “Every truck was on the road.”

It was also noted that federal money had been used to build the first round about in the county.

Rogers provided several project before/after photos. The first was paving of Old State Avenue from Jefferson Road to Mannsiding Road, done in participation with Lincoln Township with a grant from EGLE for using recycled tire rubber, plus Michigan Soybean Association money to incorporate soybean oil. He said the road building began with laying recycled asphalt millings then adding the recycled tire rubber [finely ground powder] into the millings, followed by putting the soybean oil on a half-mile section. Rogers said the soybean oil is supposed to soften/rejuvenate the asphalt emulsion in the old millings which helps get compaction. The road was finished off with paving containing rubber.

Rogers received some hearty laughs from the crowd as he said, “First edible road in the state.”

The second group of projects were bridge work including replacing culverts on Athey Avenue south of Adams Road, Dover Road and Colonville Road. Each project brought its own challenges: the Athey culvert evolved from one tube to two tubes to a larger tube, yet a heavy spring rain still resulted in water overrunning the road. It was replaced with internally produced precast concrete deck panels and newly structured abutment walls.

The existing Dover Road bridge had been weight restricted for a long time, and likewise was replaced with the precast panels. Rogers said that opens up the road restriction-wise, and that his goal is to have zero weight restricted roads in the county: two remain.

The bridge on Colonville Road was described as unique. It had concrete abutments that were in good shape, but atop them were small steel I-beams covered with 9-10 inches of concrete from the old road. Then, in building the new road, a foot of gravel was place over the concrete and paved, then at some point the road was raised again with a second layer of gravel which was then paved again. The result was nearly four feet of lasagna fill atop those small I-beams, which obviously were not designed to carry such an overburden.

“So, we popped the old system off and we replaced it with a 6.5 inch thick concrete panel,” Rogers said. “So we went from 4 foot of fill to 6 and a-half inches. The deadload is like nothing on those old abutments.” He note that to maintain the road elevation, his crew had to add a 3.5 foot cap onto the old abutment, then set the panel atop.

Rogers also noted the road commission’s assistance with the mastic crack sealing at Clare County Airport 80D, which turned out well.

Essential to road maintenance and projects are gravel and millings, and Rogers itemized those 55,796 tons of materials and their costs for 2023, including 8 miles of gravel road projects and 2 miles of asphalt millings project. He noted the pile of millings purchased a couple years ago is dwindling, but that more millings could be available for purchase if any townships are interested.

Addressing the oft stated misperception that the CCRC only hauls pit run gravel for the roads, Rogers said that is a false statement.

“We bought almost 56,000 tons of just in 2023,” he said. “A big semi with the dual trailers haul about 50 tons, so we got about a thousand of those came into Clare County and put gravel on our roads. That’s a big number; that’s a lot of work. But that’s what we did.”

That gravel use/cost included Project gravel: 18,617 tons/$181,516; Maintenance gravel 28,221 tons/$262,612; Milling Blend 2,317 tons/$23,097; and Asphalt millings 6,641 tons/$49,811.

Additional expenses come from tree trimming/removal which is contracted out to tree services. Those costs/maintenance charges totaled $84,825/$11,150. Also touched on was a listing of road projects miles from 2006 to 2024, as well as an evaluation report for the road commission’s 18 trucks, the oldest being a 1991 model and the newest 2023.

Rogers said a good system would be to purchase two new trucks every year, which would be a 9-year cycle for 18 trucks. Unfortunately, there have been multi-year periods when no trucks were purchased, putting that replacement behind, and adding the production delays created by the COVID pandemic has caused order delays of two years to get a cab and chassis. Then it has to be built, taking another 18 months. That means purchasing a truck in 2021 and receiving it by 2025.

He cited the high cost of trucks, which are not only highly expensive to purchase, but also end up more than doubling the initial cost when adding on the build/labor costs to add the necessary blades, etc. Illustrating the point with three specific trucks and rounding up, those trucks costed out were: Western Star dump body county truck/$317,719; Peterbilt Roads live bottom county truck/$358,540; and Peterbilt state truck/$376,996. These prices include the discount received for purchase on the Michigan Bid Site. Rogers noted that graders cost around $400,000.

Six new trucks have been delivered and two more are being ordered, and the hope is that within the next two to three years,  there will be eight new trucks on the road.

Rogers’ last slide showed the local township millages levied in 2022 which provide road funding in varied amounts from 11 of the county’s 16 townships, a large portion of which is spent on brining for dust control in the summer.

© Clare County Cleaver


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