Green Oak Township is still moving forward with a non-motorized path project, despite an unexpected increase in the cost of the work.

The path will connect the Lakelands Trail to Whitmore Lake Road, providing a connection to Washtenaw County and to Hamburg Township. The Livingston County Road Commission recently approved a contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to resurface and widen the non-motorized path along Lemen Road. The work will occur from 8 Mile Road, north to 9 Mile Road and along 9 Mile Road. The estimated cost of the project is $393,000, and shall be met in part by federal funds totaling $559,000, thus leaving a balance of $393,000.

The project is being led by the Road Commission; however Green Oak Township is funding the work with help from a MDOT grant. Township Supervisor Mark St. Charles says the township approved a bid package for the work, despite a significant cost increase. St. Charles says, “The bids came in at 24% over estimated bid prices. Quite a bit disappointing, but this is one of those things where we’re right here on the eve of starting to take some trees down and start construction this year so we had two options; approve the bids or reject the bids. Reject the bids, we are out another year at least and possibly jeopardize our $580,000 grant that we have. So with that in mind, I’ll find the extra $200,000.”

St. Charles says there are a few reasons behind the hike in project costs, with soil conditions being one issue, increasing asphalt prices another and a noticeable demand for contractors. The township is exploring the idea of a capital improvement bond for funding help. St. Charles says the board of trustees still went ahead with the project because it adds value to the community, noting that he sees the path being utilized every month of the year.

Tree removal work along the path is expected to begin soon as trees must come down before March 1st, due to the Indiana bats’ roosting season. (DK)