By Alexia Rodarmer
The Meridian Times
The winter is always hard on roads. Potholes and deep cracks scar the streets and complaints come from people who drive on them. Road departments do all they can to repair the roads, but with limited funding, the road department can’t repair everything. With limited money coming from sales tax from the purchase of motor fuel, the road department has a small budget for road repairs.
Director of Ingham County Road Department Bill Conklin spoke at Meridian Township Board Meeting April 7, about the May 5 ballot proposal. It is a way that the road department can get more money. The idea is to increase sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent. Then the state would eliminate the sales tax on motor fuels and put a 14.9 percent wholesale tax on fuels. The tax that comes from the purchase of motor fuel would then go straight to the transportation fund, education fund and the general fund.
According to Conklin, prices for supplies needed to repair the roads, such as asphalt and chip seal oil, have tripled within the past few years. With the amount of money the road department is currently receiving from taxes, they would not be able to buy a lot of supplies for road repair. With the May 5 proposal, road departments would be able to pay off their debt from previous road projects and then by 2017-2018, the road department would have money for more road projects.
Conklin said that the fund for the road department would rise approximately $3 million each year. Conklin said that the department already has a new road project in mind.
The road department’s plan is to rehabilitate Lake Lansing Road from Saginaw Highway to Marsh Road by making the road three lanes instead of four. The road department would then have two bike lanes and a turning lane painted on the road which would allow traffic to turn left onto Lake Lansing Road.
Township Trustee John Veenstra said that he drives that road multiple times a weeks and is very happy with Conklin’s proposal to re-stripe Lake Lansing Road.
Other road projects such as repairing Okemos Road and Haslett Road are on the road department’s agenda as well.
Before the Meridian Township Board can approve Bill Conklin’s proposal, there are some other issues that need to be addressed, such as the trees around Lake Lansing Road that would need to be cut down if they were to repair the roads.
Township Treasurer Julie Brixie said that she was not happy about the trees needing to be cut down for the road project especially because the road department doesn’t replace the trees. Brixie then said that she wanted to be a part of the road design phase so she can have more input on the design.