Lake Winds Energy Park resulted in road improvements, cooperation

May 13, 2013

Letter to the Editor.

By Gary Dittmer, manager/director, Mason County Road Commission. 

As a condition to build the Lake Winds Energy Park in Riverton and Summit townships, Consumers Energy Company, the developer, was required to agree to a road use agreement (RUA) as developed by the Mason County Road Commission. The purpose of the RUA was to protect the investment made by the townships and road commission in the existing roads and determine the responsibility for the repairs and improvements as a result of the project construction activity.

A provision of the RUA declared that 16 miles of existing gravel roads within the project limits needed extensive improvements to handle the construction traffic. It was estimated this work would include grading, drainage improvements and the placement of considerable additional gravel. Once into the project, the actual condition of the roadway and the weather conditions of 2012 determined this work was unnecessary.

Negotiations between the road commission and Consumers Energy resulted in the monies budgeted for this work would be provided to the road commission to be used for the improvement of various local roads within the project area. This amounted to $800,000, the road commission would make recommendations and the townships would prioritize where the work is to be completed.

Additionally a one-time allocation of $150,000 was agreed upon for the reconstruction of Anthony Road, a primary road from Pere Marquette Highway to Stiles Road. Finally an amount of $30,000 was agreed upon to cover legal fees incurred by the Road Commission as a result of the RUA.

In total these negotiations resulted in $980,000 for road improvements; however, this is not the entire story. The Lake Winds Energy Park project construction phase lasted about a year, it began in the late summer/ early fall of 2011 and was completed in the fall of 2012. During that time span there were numerous road improvements and maintenance items completed within the project limits. Gravel was placed, culverts replaced, drainage was improved and lots of dust palliative (brine) was placed, along with numerous areas being paved with asphalt to improve the driving surface. Consumers Energy reimbursed the Road Commission for all of this at a cost of nearly $175,000. In addition to the above, the aggregate used in the contractors lay down yard and used in the temporary improvements was removed and provided to the Road Commission to be used for road improvements at a value of over $250,000. In conclusion after the completion of the Lake Winds Energy Park project the economic benefit to the road system for this area will be nearly $1.4 million.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Consumers Energy for its financial support, Riverton and Summit townships for their continued cooperation and to the residents for their patience. I realize there were times of inconvenience, but the proposed improvements would not have been possible without this project.

Sincerely,

Gary L. Dittmer, Manager/Director

Mason County Road Commission

 

 

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