IRON RIVER—Problems along Wright Road in Mansfield Township have been a headache for the Road Commission for some time. They were discussed again during the board’s regular meeting July 16.
The newest problem: dandelions! Those persistent weeds pop up on even the most meticulously kept lawn. But a recently blacktopped road?
The evidence was hard to dispute: photos of tall, healthy dandelions along the edge of Wright Road, which was repaved last year.
Board Chairman Dan Germic led off by asking what can be done to prevent it from happening again, along with who is accountable. “So that means the blacktop isn’t very thick,” he ventured.
“No it doesn’t,” replied Superintendent Doug Tomasoski, showing core samples of the blacktop, 2 inches thick. “There’s 15 places where I dug on the edge and Brad took cores. We took six cores, and I had nine or 10 diggings on the edge where there was growth.
“There was anywhere between 1¾ and 2 inches of blacktop. I expected with what I see out there to see at least one spot where there was an inch of blacktop.”
In the past, Tomasoski said, he has seen cases where there were voids in the blacktop, allowing vegetation to get through. No voids on Wright Road, though.
The superintendent said the road had been fine-graded and compacted in fall 2011. It sat all that winter and the following summer and was paved in fall 2012. “So it sat a year. Which is good” because there was plenty of time for any bad areas to show up. The Road Commission graded it once or twice. “There never was any indication that there was a problem.”
Despite the grading, there could have been root systems under the surface of the gravel. The road was not graded just before paving. One theory is that the heat of the blacktop germinated seeds that had fallen on the surface earlier.
It’s not only dandelions. Another plant has been seen—maybe popples—coming up through the surface.
Township Supervisor Richard Dryjanski said most of the problems are on the south edge of the east-west road. He asked the Road Commission to patch the holes and crack-fill the road.
“You would think it’s uncommon, but it’s actually not,” said Ray Kudwa of Mastodon Township, a 25-year veteran with the Michigan Department of Transportation. “I’ve even seen it on state highways, but usually on lesser traveled highways. In fact, they even come up on heavily traveled highways, but it’s usually packed down right away.
“Every now and then, you’d be surprised what comes up through that asphalt.” Tomasoski said he has also seen dandelions on airport runways.
The bottom line: The contractor doesn’t seem to be at fault.
As for what can be done, Tomasoski said the Road Commission will start regarding roads just before they are paved. That wasn’t done on Wright Road “because it was nice and hard. The majority of it was like concrete,” and they didn’t want to disturb it.
Another suggestion: applying weed killer just before paving.
The Wright Road project also had problems with the slope along the road, but those have been fixed. The Road Commission put several truckloads of seeded mulch on each side of the road, and it crack-filled several places on the road. At the meeting, commissioners voted to waive the 1.5 percent service charge to the township.
Mansfield Township had balked at paying its bill for the Wright Road project. With the road’s problems resolved and the service fee waived, Dryjanski said he would urge his board to make the payment.
Germic also asked why the Road Commission pays its contractors before the township pays for a township project. Tomasoski said the Road Commission pays within 30 to 60 days, but it usually doesn’t bill the townships until the end of the construction season.
“A lot of them usually don’t get their millage money until February the following year,” he said. “So we will bill in December or January for 60 days. But the contractor needs to be paid once the project is completed.”
• Another long discussion was about the legal fees that may have to be paid after the Road Commission agreed to a request to abandon an easement on Hagerman Lake.
The easement, granted during the 1920s, was never used, and adjacent property owners wanted the Road Commission to abandon the property, supposedly at no cost. But there are $650 in legal fees involved, and the Road Commission wants to be reimbursed.
“I realize this is a plat,” said Commissioner Ernest Schmidt, “and any time there is an abandonment, they pay 100 percent of it.”
The Road Commission wants the property resurveyed at the end of the procedure. “One of the things we want to make sure,” said attorney Mark Tousignant, “is that the order is correct and the plat is resurveyed to reflect what was done to it.” He said a fee is appropriate to cover the Road Commission’s expense and its employees’ time. The Road Commission has no policy that calls for fees when reviewing a plat.
“We have to pay to abandon it?” asked Commissioner Sholander. “To me, that makes no sense.”
“This gentleman’s a businessman in town,” said Schmidt. “Just write a letter to him and see if we can’t get reimbursed for this.”
In the end, the board voted 3-2 to try to recoup its expenses for abandoning the property, with Sholander and Battan opposed.
• In other business, the board:
--Approved a contract from MDOT for phase 2 of the Gibbs City Road project.
--Gave Tomasoski permission to advertise for 20,000 to 30,000 tons of 23A gravel for Iron River; three-inch material for Oss Road; and about 20,000 tons for Oss Road.
--Approved about $4,200 in repairs to the steering and suspension for a 1991 tractor truck that has 970,000 miles on it. Michigan-Wisconsin Spring will do the work. Tomasoski said the truck is used often.
--Heard from head mechanic Dean Stolberg that he hopes the commission will put a pickup truck in its budget for next year. “They’re getting in bad shape,” agreed Battan. The trucks are required by the state for night patrol on highways—and the county is paid for it.
Stolberg said the commission’s pickups are all close to 250,000 miles, “and they’re the new ones!”