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SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
MONDAY, APRIL 16, 2001 AT 7:00 PM
NOVI CIVIC CENTER Ė COUNCIL CHAMBERS Ė 45175 W. TEN MILE ROAD
Mayor Clark called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL: Mayor Clark, Council Members Bononi Ė absent/excused, Cassis, Csordas, DeRoche, Kramer, Lorenzo
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
CM-01-04-090 Moved by Csordas, seconded by Cassis; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY:
To approve the agenda as presented.
Vote on CM-01-04-090 Yeas: Clark, Lorenzo, Cassis, Csordas, DeRoche, Kramer
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION - None
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING
Discussion of Grand River Avenue Bridge Funding with Road Commission for Oakland
Mayor Clark noted Managing Director Brent Bair was present as well as County Commissioner Hugh Crawford. Also, present was Ernie Savas from MDOT.
Brent Bair noted they first applied for critical bridge funding in 1989 and in 1991 got approval for funding and started the 4 F Environmental work. In September 1993 they signed an agreement with Hampton Engineering for design work and in 1994 the work began and July 1994 preliminary plans were submitted to MDOT. The plans got caught up in a statewide delay within MDOT and April 10, 1996 they got the grade inspection at the site. May 8, 1996 the required public hearing was held and the City requested an additional sidewalk to the bridge which increased the cost about 20%. The City advised them of the need for coordination with the Crescent Blvd. Project and that there were ROW problems. Mr. Bair
noted Grand River couldnít be closed because of major work on I-96. July of 1997 MDOT informed them that no critical bridge monies were available for construction and the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), an environmental determination, which allowed them to proceed, was obtained. In April 1998 a second grade inspection was held and the 75 foot limit was discussed and they didnít proceed to see it as a big problem because they had always been able to go back to the task force and obtain additional funding. On December 16, 1999 a letter from City Manager Kriewall advising that they should move ahead even though the Crescent Blvd. Issue had not been resolved and they should accommodate it within their design. December 22, 1999 Mr. Bair responded and said they would move ahead. October 27, 2000 they received a letter from Orchard, Hiltz and McCliment indicating there would be a $3 million shortfall with the 75-foot limit. This was brought to Councilís attention when they had their strategic planning meeting.
Mr. Bair felt there were two choices. The $3 million received for critical bridge funds could be returned and totally re-submit the project. The reason this could be done was the rules changed and in 1994 the Critical Bridge Committee abandoned the 75-foot limit. However, they did not grandfather all the projects that were submitted prior to the change.
The second choice was the RCOC offered to split the $3 million and move ahead with the project and the Board of Commissioners was willing to do this. He said they were not happy about splitting $3 million because they would have to borrow their $1.5 million. They would borrow against their MTF Revenues, which are their State Road Funds and the same money used to plow snow, resurface roads, fill potholes, etc. However, this is important to Novi and they would be willing to add this to other borrowing they are going to do this year. Mr. Holmberg has been warned by the MDOT staff person who handles critical bridge funding that returning the $3 million would not be a good idea because it might be a long time before we see that funding again. The next question was if the money is put up was there anywhere to go to get it back and the answer is no.
Mr. Bair said they had the bridge inspected last year and regularly. It looks bad but under the current weight restrictions it has been determined by consultants to be safe. If there were any indications that bridge would not be safe tomorrow, they would close it today. They would not take the risk with public safety, as it is still the number one priority. It does look bad and is deteriorating, but is considered safe right now.
Mr. Bair noted that Bill Conklin, Oakland County Road Commission Design Engineer, was present, consultants Phil Hampton of Hampton Engineering and Bill Zipp and Bob Green of Orchard, Hiltz and McCliment.
Member Csordas thanked RCOC for their cooperation and assistance with the City and appreciated the number of projects they have helped the City with such projects as Novi Road between 10 Mile and Grand River, resurfacing 10 Mile and their assistance in the upcoming interchange and Beck Road projects. Member Csordas asked how the bridge would impact Clark Street?
Mr. Bair said regarding Clark Street, the connection would be maintained and the connection at Whipple would also be maintained. The elevation at the intersection of Clark and Grand River would come up and it would be a similar situation going toward Novi Road. He noted the service drive to Wisne and on the opposite to the feed store would be maintained but changed. Member Csordas said the sidewalks increased the cost 20% and asked if it was a City request and if it was to late to delete them? Mr. Bair said it would cause design change costs.
Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if the information she requested about the last inspection was available? Mr. Bair said yes, but it was on disk and a hard copy had not been made yet. The bridge was inspected last year and the appropriate weight restrictions that should apply to the bridge are now in effect. She said it didnít appear to be an emergency from the RCOC point of view. Mr. Bair said the bridge would be there tomorrow but didnít know if it would be there in five years or if the funding would be available. He asked if they wanted to risk waiting that long and if something happened having to close that road then waiting a couple of years for funding. How long could they wait for funding with the road closed? That is the risk and the longer they wait the more expensive it would be. Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo felt if the road was closed the county and the State would find the money for it. Mr. Bair said it sounded like he was trying to talk Council into forcing them into borrowing $1.5 million that would come out of their operating funds. He was not willing to take any risks on the part of the City and the citizens and certainly would not take risks from a safety standpoint. He was concerned because the bridge was already affecting traffic patterns as there were trucks that could not cross the bridge and if it got any worse perhaps the fire engines would not be able to cross it.
Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo said there was a third option of appealing to MDOT or the Governor to be grandfathered in. If it was a bad law why should Novi be penalized for applying early. Mr. Bair said it was not a law. It was a rule passed by a committee that approved bridges statewide for critical bridge funding. Mr. Bair said if it were appealed to the committee they would just say that was the rule and that is it. Mr. Bair noted they had appealed to Mr. Rosine, MDOT, in a meeting with Mr. Holmberg, Mr. Bairís staff, and Mr. Helwig and got nowhere. Member Lorenzo asked about City Council appealing in conjunction with the State Representative and State Senator to the Governor. Mr. Rosine has one vote on the committee. The committee would recognize that if they gave us another $3 million they would have to drop other bridges they had committed to with existing funds that are supposed to go this year. They would not do that because those commitments are made and the communities are ready to go to construction. She felt that the City was being given an ultimatum and the bridge and road belong to Oakland County. She felt paying the $1.5 million meant less maintenance in subdivisions and possibly no paving because they could not go back to the residents for 5 years. Mr. Bair understood her position. She was not prepared to agree to splitting the costs.
Member Kramer asked what the normal policy was and Mr. Bair stated it was always a match for all communities. The funds were 80% Federal, 10% State funds and 10% local which would be split between the city and the county. This is still the formula for the $3 million for the bridge itself. The estimate is $6 million for the bridge and 75 feet and all the roadwork for a major road-widening project. The additional approaches are a 50/50 match to general funds. Mr. Bair said a major road-widening project was not supported by Federal funds and was split 50/50 including engineering costs. Member Kramer said we were on the hook for 5% of $3 million and now we have added 50% of another $3 million. Mr. Bair said he was correct. Mr. Bair noted that in other counties, cities paid 50% for road resurfacing. There is a State law requirement that if I-96 is improved the city must put up a match and Noviís match will go up due to increase in population. Member Kramer clarified that the City was not being treated any differently than any other city. He asked if there was a way to move forward by working with the county and funding our part but leaving a contingency for negotiations with the State for mitigation. Mr. Bair stated they would be happy to participate in any effort to get some sort of recovery of the $3 million, as it would help them as well.
Mr. Bair said if the Council wanted to move ahead they would need to approve Mr. Helwig entering into an agreement with the road commission to proceed in committing the additional $1.5 million. The agreement would be signed and construction would start in January 2002. The time commitment would be spread out over 1-2 years. The bridge would be demolished in January 2002; it would take 6 or 7 months, and funds would be needed to make contractor payments while it was being done. Member Kramer requested a timetable for when the money had to be paid which would give Council a negotiating time frame. Mr. Bair said they would do the best they could considering the variables they had no control over. Member Kramer noted the sudden unplanned imposition of $1.5 million was quite a lot for the City to handle but didnít want to impede the progress of other projects.
Member Cassis noted Representative Cassis, Senator Bullard, and County Commissioner Crawford were all in attendance and asked them to speak.
Senator Bullard reported they are always working for road monies for this area. He did not think there would be any further help from MDOT on this matter.
Representative Cassis noted the good news was reconstruction of 2 interchanges at Wixom and Beck Road and with the State, County and Federal government working together there is $70 to $80 million dollars in committed funds. These projects are on target and they are committed to finding whatever funding there might be to move this forward. The Grand River widening funds are being assisted by a match of $1.5 million from the City and was a small investment on Noviís part for the greater investment of $70-$80 million for this project. They had convened with the MDOT Director and critical bridge committee to see if there were dollars there. All those dollars for critical bridges had been committed so if money was removed from this fund others in the State would have to suffer. She spoke with Tom Drake, CSX Railroad representative again today since the height of the bridge was being raised to accommodate the trains. He indicated he was not optimistic but would continue to pursue this and would meet with the Vice President of CSX Engineering on May 18th to make the case for Novi. She said Ron DeCook of the County Road Association of Michigan has been exploring with Mr. Bair and other State and Federal sources. There is one category this bridge might fit into because of its unique design and he indicated he would pursue this to see if there were any dollars because of the unique design of the bridge even if a specific feature needed to be added.
Representative Cassis spoke with the Governorís liaison Louise Alderson. Ms. Alderson then spoke to Mr. Rosine, MDOT Director. Representative Cassis asked what if she put an amendment on the transportation budget? Ms. Alderson thought the Governor would veto it because there is no more money in the pot. Representative Cassis thought Federal dollars would have to be pursued in order to compensate Novi.
Senator Bullard noted a lot of funds had been put into southeastern Michigan because of gas tax increase and the Federal money they started getting a couple years ago. There would be more money coming in Build Michigan Three but at this point the City would have to make a decision based on the facts they knew and they would continue to seek more Federal and State funding for this and any future projects.
Member DeRoche noted this is critical but not an emergency and asked how many city projects was the RCOC seeking loans for? Mr. Bair said they were borrowing for road repair work and the Grand River widening. Member DeRoche learned that people were not passing the buck on Novi and he was very impressed with their commitment to the City. Initially Member DeRoche was concerned about the standard change and the extent of the effect it would have on Novi and how many other issues could come forward on this? Mr. Bair noted other projects were more typical and used the normal federal funding process. This is a unique project that RCOC had never run in to until now. Member DeRoche asked about the status of other RCOC projects and was there a change in the relationship between the City and RCOC for the other $70 million we are about to undertake? Mr. Bair said absolutely not no other projects would be held up. They would move ahead with the other projects regardless of Councilís decision and regardless of the bridge.
Mayor Clark said itís Noviís responsibility even though itís a County Road because public safety had to be a priority. He was concerned about emergency vehicles not being able to use the road if itís closed down and businesses going bankrupt or leaving and many business owners live in Novi and pay property taxes on their homes and business. The county came forward in good faith and is ready to move on the project. Mayor Clark said they had decisions to make involving matters of public safety and he was not willing to gamble about this. He thought the construction should begin this winter.
Mr. Savas, MDOT, stated the departmentís position was quite firm and the Critical Bridge Committee had nine members. He said the fund was about $33 million; he felt the chances were quite small of returning the $3 million and requesting $6 million because it would be 20% of the funds. There are 45-50 bridges on the critical bridge fund to be rebuilt this year and felt it would be extremely difficult to make this retroactive to other bridges.
There being no further business to come before the Council, the meeting was adjourned at 8:09 p.m.
Richard J. Clark, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
Transcribed by: _________________________
Charlene Mc Lean
Date approved: May 7, 2001