Task force sets road plans for ’17

IRON RIVER—Road construction plans for 2017 and the next several years were the focus when Iron County’s rural task force meeting was held at the Road Commission offices on Dec. 21.
    The meeting was held to decide priorities for primary road projects over the next several years. The projects are eligible for funding through the federal Department of Transportation, through MDOT. The projects are funded by the STP (state transportation plan) and state Category D funds.
    The task force consists of the Road Commission, represented by Superintendent Doug Tomasoski; county cities and village, represented by Caspian City Manager John Stokoski; and public transit.
    The transit vote is held by the Dickinson-Iron Community Services Agency, which does not provide public transit services in Iron County and has not taken part in the meetings.
    The task force meets each year to revise its project list before passing it along to a regional task force, consisting of officials from Iron, Gogebic and Ontonagon counties. From there, recommendations go to the state.
    Steve Rouser from the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region, said the STP balance is 100 percent of the allocation. As a result, Iron County can spend up to $534,832 this year. “They’re got a little more to play with this year.”
    However, he added, funds are not guaranteed. Iron County’s projected STP allocation is $428,657 for each of the next three years, 2018 to 2020.
    Tomasoski said STP funding has to be used up by the end of each budget year—unused funds can’t be carried forward to the next year. All STP projects require at least a 20 percent local match.
    The rules for Category D funds are different. They can be carried over from one year to the next but can only be used on all-season roads (those not affected by load limits in spring).
    Tomasoski noted that Gaastra city officials have decided to delay a planned project on Bates-Gaastra Road from Maplewood to the north city limits. The reason: The city can’t budget the $20,000 local match for the $100,000 project.

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