It’s been a while, but an Oxford Township subdivision road that’s been closed since a large sinkhole opened up in late February is finally being fixed.
Work to replace the failed culvert that caused the sinkhole and rebuild Wood Trail, the road above it, began May 22.
Angelo Iafrate Construction Company, based in Warren, is handling the $360,000 project.
The plan is to reopen Wood Trail by Friday, June 22. The stretch between Watersmeet Dr. and Chesnut Ct. has been closed since a sinkhole was discovered and reported on Saturday, Feb. 24.
The sinkhole formed when a portion of the corrugated metal pipe culvert beneath Wood Trail collapsed, causing the dirt above it to give way and form a large, water-filled hole on the east side of the road.
Paint Creek flows through the culvert beneath Wood Trail.
As the hours passed following the sinkhole’s discovery, the dirt beneath Wood Trail slowly gave way, causing the asphalt surface to sag as it lost more and more of its support. Finally, at approximately 12:30 p.m. Feb. 25, the pavement buckled and fell into the water, more than doubling the size of the hole.
There is disagreement between the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) and Oxford Township over who is picking up the tab for the Wood Trail project.
In a May 1 letter to the township, Dennis Kolar, managing director for the road commission, wrote the “RCOC must insist that the township pay 50 percent of the construction cost.”
Kolar cited Michigan Public Act 51 of 1951 as the basis for the county’s claim.
“(The law) only allows a road commission to expend Michigan Transportation Fund monies for construction purposes on local roads, like Wood Trail, to the extent the funds are matched by other sources,” he wrote. “To meet this statutory requirement, (the) RCOC must have a partner to share the costs of the construction project to replace the Wood Trail culvert.”
Township attorney Gary Rentrop disagreed.
According to a May 11 email to township Supervisor Bill Dunn, it is Rentrop’s opinion the Wood Trail project constitutes “reconstruction or restoration,” both of which are considered “preservation” work under Act 51. Rentrop believes this means the county “can cover 100 percent of the cost” using monies from the Michigan Transportation Fund “with or without (a) match” from other sources.
Dunn’s position on the issue hasn’t changed. “It isn’t the township’s responsibility to pay for this. It’s the county’s,” he told this reporter. “They own the roads. They maintain them. We don’t. If something goes wrong, like it did there on Wood Trail, it’s up to the county to fix it and pay for it. End of story. We’re not in the road business. They are.”