Markkanen looks to help road commission

MOHAWK — A bill sponsored by State Representative Greg Markkanen, R- Hancock, that would assist the Keweenaw County Road Commission, has been sent to Governor Gretchen Whitmer for consideration.

If signed into law, the legislation would allow the Road Commission to replace its 103-year-old facility that has developed serious concerns over the years.

The building failed a safety inspection in 2016, which revealed numerous issues with the maintenance facility, including structural integrity, electrical and mechanical problems, as well as problems with the building’s HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems.

Road Commission engineer and manager Gregg Patrick discussed the building’s situation earlier this year with the House Transportation Commission. According to figures from his department, Patrick said remodeling the current structure would cost an estimated $1.8 million, whereas constructing a new garage would cost $300,000 less, at $1.5 million. Patrick said that, unfortunately, those numbers are already three years old.

Markkanen introduced House Bill 4120 to give road commissions in rural counties more flexibility. The bill was introduced in April of this year, would amend 1909 PA 283, the “county road law,” to allow a county road commission to enter into a contract, or agreement, for the purchase of real or personal property for public purposes, to be paid for in installments over a period of up to 30 years or the useful life of the property acquired, whichever is less.

The current law Public Act 283, passed in 1909, prescribes a maximum time period of 15 years for such installment contracts. Markkanen’s plan would double the timeframe to 30 years to complete purchases.

“This extended installment period will help bring the annual costs down to affordable levels,” Markkanen said. “It will allow the Keweenaw County Road Commission to make such needed improvements to its maintenance barn, while continuing to invest more into repairing our roads.”

Patrick said the Road Commission appreciates the efforts of Markkanen, the County Road Association, and the legislature for seeing the bill through to passage.

“This is another tool for Road Commissions to use when considering funding and financing options for upgrading existing facilities, or building new ones,” said Patrick. “This will allow building projects to take place, while still allowing for road construction projects and equipment replacement to continue as needed.”

The plan, said Markkanen’s office, received overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.