2012-06-07 / Front Page

Refinance will aid bridge work

Road commission uses bond refinance for grant match

MANISTIQUE – The Schoolcraft County Road Commission will be repairing four bridges over the next two years with the help of a bond refinance. Schoolcraft County Commissioners approved the bond resolution during a recent meeting.

According to Craig Kelso, engineer/ manager for the road commission, issues with a state bridge grant match have been plaguing the commission. He explained the commission realized that timing was not right to approach the townships, county, or county residents (via a millage) to assist in paying for the match. By renewing and then refinancing an existing 10-yearold bond on the road commission building on East Road, the commission will be able to save substantial funds and pay for the match, Kelso added.

“With our savings on the original bond, reinvesting that with some additional funds, keeping our bond term the same, it increased our monthly cost a little bit, but (is) a far better option, because … we would probably have to look hard at not replacing and repairing the bridges that were on the grant,” he said.

The grant amounts to approximately $3.5 million worth of work to be completed on the bridges, explained Kelso. The grant, from the Michigan Local Bridge Program was received for three bridges in 2008, and a fourth bridge received funds in 2010. Though the commission awarded the funds, Kelso explained they could not obligate the funds until the 2012-13 fiscal year. This stipulation is in place to give recipients a chance to obtain necessary items, such as permits.

With the grant funds, the Ten Curves Bridge on County Road 498, in Germfask, and the Cope Bridge, County Road 440, over the Indian River, will be replaced. The bridges on Railroad Street, on County Road 450, over the Fox River in Seney, and Taylor Dam Road, over the Fox River, will be repaired.

“If we didn’t take this out of the bridge grant, then we would have to do it out of our own funds,” Kelso said. “It’s a difficult task, and those that really can’t afford it, if they want to maintain their crossings, then they do bonds or they do millages for those purposes.”

If the commission decided against fixing and replacing the bridges, he explained there would be a chance they would be shut down, adding a shut down was recently avoided.

“They came against that decision about a month ago, upon our review about where we were in commitments and we were hoping over the past couple years perhaps our revenue stream would improve – none of those things came to fruition,” he said. “We delayed some things, got some help in tactics to delay it, we finally came up against the deadline – these are funds to be obligated this fiscal year.”

The grant consists of 80 percent federal funds, 15 percent from state funds,anda5percentmatchfor the commission, explained Kelso.

“Our responsibility is all the engineering, preliminary and construction engineering,” he added. “That’s where some of our costs creep up.”

According to Kelso, the Cope Bridge will be replaced in 2014, while the Ten Curves Bridge will be put out for bids in 2012, and constructed in 2013. The Taylor Dam Road bridge is near completion, with the commission using its own workforce for that repair. The Railroad Street bridge will likely see construction in 2013, he said.

“Bridges, have long life, this will spread it over a 15 year period, which is a short period for bridge life, so I think it’s worked out to be a very viable option,” Kelso said. “We would prefer to take that savings and reinvest it in other things, but this is a very worthwhile thing.”

The board unanimously approved the road commission bond renewal and refinance.

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