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Township Board Tables Decision on Northwestern Connector 'Ultimatum'

Citing a multitude of problems in working with the Road Commission for Oakland County to complete a planned reconstruction of the intersection at Maple Road and Orchard Lake Road, the West Bloomfield Township Board agreed to delay a decision until next we

The West Bloomfield Township Board agreed unanimously Monday night to postpone its vote on what to do regarding a planned reconstruction of the intersection at Maple Road and Orchard Lake Road.

The vote to table the discussion came after what the board described as an “ultimatum” issued May 3 by the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) to the township to accept one of three options to move forward with plans originally laid out as the Northwestern Connector (NWC) project in 2003.

The Township Board is expected to vote on the issue at its provided that the RCOC's offer will remain on the table.

After collectively citing a multitude of difficulties with every option discussed Tuesday night in and hearing public comment from Oakland County Commissioner Marcia Gershenson (D-17th District) and former Trustee Allen Adelberg, township attorney Gary Dovre agreed to meet with RCOC legal counsel to try to elaborate on several key points of the RCOC's proposal.

"Before we go through with (deciding on an option), we want to know: Are they willing to consider a new legal agreement?" said Clerk Cathy Shaughnessy, who expressed a great deal of frustration in dealing with the RCOC as part of an ad hoc roads committee established in 2008 to fact-find information regarding the NWC.

"What we have to get in (a legal agreement) is what was never in it to begin with, like the order in which (the RCOC) would construct these pieces. We would want to know what our costs would be. The original agreement is a short document which ties our hands," Shaughnessy said.

"Make sure you get anything from the Road Commission signed in writing," said Adelberg, who was part of the Township Board that greed to the NWC in 2003. "They gave us very little time back then to sign off on anything, and I feel bad for (the current board), now that they're dealing with this. (They) have my support."

The meeting Tuesday began with a presentation by committee members Richard Barr, Norah O'Brian and Lorna McEwen, who offered differing opinions and insight as to difficulties with the RCOC's proposal.

Barr said he was not comfortable making a decision Tuesday due to a lack of information regarding areas of concern, including pedestrian safety of a possible roundabout to be constructed there, impact on businesses during construction and a disagreement with the RCOC on the comparitive costs of building a roundabout versus building a four-lane boulevard.

O'Brian said she was concerned that the RCOC would move on the third option presented, which would be to move ahead with “some boulevard construction” in addition to building a roundabout at the 14 Mile and Orchard Lake intersection. According to documents, “In early discussions in 2009, the RCOC had indicated that a boulevard without a roundabout would have to terminate somewhere near the Daly/Powers Road intersection.”

"We're dealing with a finite amount of resources here," said Shaughnessy, referring to $27 million in remaining funds from the Michigan Department of Transportation, as well as funds from other federal, state and local entities that could be used at Maple and Orchard Lake.

"We're in an enviable position, actually, and we need to make sure we make the right decision with what we have," Shaughnessy said.

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