RCOC Releases 2015 Strategic Planning Report: Increasing Challenges, Evolving Priorities
BEVERLY HILLS, MI The Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) releases its biennial Strategic Planning report, which summarizes the meetings the agency's leaders conducted recently with the leaders of virtually every community in the county.
The report highlights RCOC's increasing challenges resulting from the ongoing road-funding crisis and its consequent evolving priorities.
The RCOC Strategic Planning process involves Managing Director Dennis Kolar and Deputy Managing Director/County Highway Engineer Gary Piotrowicz meeting with each community's leaders to review road issues. As part of each meeting, RCOC provided an overview of the road funding challenges the agency faces and also solicited the community's input regarding needed improvements on county roads in the community.
"Basically, the road-funding challenges remain the same," said Kolar. "Two years ago, RCOC's report called upon legislative bodies to address road funding, and little has been accomplished, giving our roads another two years of continued deterioration. These meetings provide us with a broad view of road issues on a countywide basis as well as a detailed examination of each community's needs."
The detailed report on the Strategic Planning process is available on the RCOC Web site.
"Our hope is the information will inform people that Michigan has a major road-funding problem that has necessitated crisis-mode operations for road agencies throughout the state," said Kolar. "Everyone complains about pothole patching, but this is a temporary fix until more money can be found to either resurface or reconstruct roads."
RCOC's Strategic Planning process was begun in 1985 in an effort to better gauge the needs and concerns of communities served by the Road Commission and to improve communications between RCOC and the communities. After each round of strategic planning meetings, RCOC compiles a list of road projects that the communities have identified as priorities over the next 10 years. The needs identified by the communities during the 2015 Strategic Planning meetings would cost well over $2.9 billion to implement, a figure that is almost 50 percent higher than the total of the needs identified during the last round of meetings in 2013.
Perhaps even more disturbing is that Road Commission computer models indicate that 66 percent of RCOC roads will be in poor condition by 2020 without any new funding. This figure left many community leaders shaking their heads, as they further understood how the lack of proper investment dollars since the 1990s clearly has contributed to road conditions.
"Sadly, we feel like a broken record," Kolar said. "We simply have not had the funding to address many of these needs over the last 15 years. While some additional state General Fund revenue has been directed toward roads, it has been far too little to stop the continued deterioration of the pavement. At the same time, just as inflation rises, so does the cost to do road projects."
Other prominent figures from the report include:
22 percent of RCOC roads need simple resurfacing, 55 percent need heavy resurfacing, and 14 percent need reconstruction
44 percent of RCOC roads are rated in poor condition
Costs for diesel fuel, cold patch and salt have increased 61 to 186 percent tho the last 10 years
Statewide road funding has declined 5.4 percent over the last 10 years
RCOC staff has been reduced by 35 percent since 2007
"Many township supervisors continue to express their desire to see some of the most heavily traveled gravel roads paved," Kolar said. "We agree those roads should be paved. However, at an average cost of $2 million per mile, we just don't have enough money to do more than one mile per year."
On a positive note, RCOC has purchased some new equipment to augment its aging fleet. Since 2013, 36 new dump trucks and nine graders have been purchased to replace equipment that was inoperable.