Task force sets road plans

IRON RIVER—Road construction priorities for the next several years were the focus Dec. 18 when the county road task force meeting was held at the Road Commission’s meeting room.
    Doug Tomasoski, road commission superintendent and engineer, told the small audience that the meeting is held to decide priorities for road projects that are eligible for federal funding.
    Iron County’s priorities are forwarded to a regional task force (Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon counties) for a January meeting and then move on to the state.
    This process takes place every year, and as one year’s projects are completed and dropped from the list, another year of projects is added at the bottom. “There can be changes once projects are in,” Tomasoski told the group.
    Handouts showed projected funding for the next few years. State Category D funding (for all-season road improvements) is expected to remain steady through fiscal year 2023 at $85,216, but STP funding from the feds (for major and minor collector roads and transit) is forecast to rise from $570,406 in FY 2019 to $617,000 in FY 2023.
    Unused STP funding cannot be carried over from year to year, Tomasoski said. “It’s so hard to estimate from year to year.” Also, there are signs that blacktop prices may increase in 2019.
    Two federal aid projects were planned in Iron County for 2018: the final phase of the Sunset Lake Road project and part of the County Road 424 project, from Two-Mile hill to the Kolbas lands. Sunset Lake Road work was finished, but 424 plans got sidetracked by the state construction lockout in late summer.

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