By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer
Talks have been going round and round about a roundabout in West Bloomfield, and the Township Board of Trustees has voted to keep the talks going in hopes of securing long-awaited road renovations.
The board voted unanimously June 27 to ask the Road Commission for Oakland County to build a four-lane boulevard on Orchard Lake Road that would completely stretch from 14 Mile Road to Maple Road. The board also asked for road improvements to the Orchard Lake Road and Maple Road intersection.
As part of the deal, the township agreed to let the Road Commission build a roundabout at the 14 Mile and Orchard Lake Road intersection, the border between West Bloomfield Township and Farmington Hills.
Township Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste preferred a 14 Mile roundabout to one at Orchard Lake Road and Maple, which was a choice that the Road Commission presented.
Ureste added that the commission wanted a prompt decision, and this was a rare chance to use roughly $27 million of outside aid through the Northwestern Connector Project.
“Farmington (Hills) is rushing for a roundabout at 14 Mile,” Ureste said. “I feel that if we do not take some sort of action tonight, we may lose our boulevard.”
The township and its Ad Hoc Roads Committee have been in discussions with the Road Commission over the Northwestern Connector Project for about 2 1/2 years. Roads Committee members have groused at getting what they say is incomplete information.
In May, the Road Commission wanted to end discussions, and told the township to pick a course of action:
• Agree to install an Orchard Lake Road-Maple roundabout while putting in a four-lane boulevard on Orchard Lake Road, between Maple and 14 Mile.
• Let the Road Commission build a roundabout at 14 Mile and Orchard Lake Road while building a boulevard of a yet-to-be-determined length north of that roundabout.
• Finalize an engineering study of the Maple-Orchard Lake Road intersection.
Ureste originally said the township would have to pay $855,000 toward the 14 Mile roundabout, but Clerk Cathy Shaughnessy said that the price tag could hit $1.5 million.
During the meeting, some board members asked officials to make the Road Commission pin down how far an Orchard Lake Road boulevard would extend north of a 14 Mile roundabout. Township Attorney Gary Dovre said the Road Commission previously implied that a boulevard would go as far as the money would take it.
Dovre told the board that the Road Commission is willing to negotiate terms following a board resolution regarding which direction the township intends to take. But Trustee Larry Brown wanted proof. “I’d like to see that in writing,” he said.
Shaughnessy called herself “a little bit gun shy” over the arrangement and wanted the Ad Hoc Roads Committee to still be involved with the legal dealings with the Road Commission. The board agreed the Roads Committee should reconvene and extend its influence toward a new contract with the Road Commission.
Ureste expressed confidence in the township’s ability to negotiate.
“I think we have a louder voice than we think,” she said.
You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (586)498-1058.