2019-2020 Weesaw Township
Two-Year Local Road Improvements
The Berrien County Road Department (BCRD) has announced the following heavy maintenance projects for Weesaw Township local roads in 2019 and 2020. These projects were recommended by the Weesaw Township Road Committee and approved by the Township Board.
Wagner—Cleveland to Gardner (2019: grind surface, add gravel; 2020: prime and double sealcoat)
Wagner— Pardee to Holden (2019: grind, add gravel; 2020: prime and double sealcoat)
Pardee—Browntown to Sawyer (2019: grind, add gravel; 2020: prime and double sealcoat)
Elm Valley— Pardee to Cleveland (2019: prime and double sealcoat)
A note on local road funding: At elections in 2014, 2016, and 2018, Weesaw voters approved 3 two-year road millages. Combined with funds from other sources, Weesaw Township will have improved nearly 20 miles of local roads by 2020. For a map identifying these roads, click here.
2019-2021 Weesaw Township
Three-Year Primary Road Improvements
The Berrien County Road Department has selected the following primary roads for improvements in 2019-2021. Note: The Road Department is solely responsible for planning and paying for primary road improvements.
Warren Woods—Gardner to Boyle Lake (grind, gravel, prime and double sealcoat)
Cleveland—Warren Woods to Elm Valley (sealcoat)
Cleveland—Wagner to Warren Woods (sealcoat)
Cleveland—Elm Valley to Galien-Buchanan (2 inches of asphalt)
Mill—Warren Woods to Kruger (prime and double sealcoat)
Kruger—Mill to Avery (prime and double sealcoat)
Mill—Glendora to Warren Woods (prime and double sealcoat)
California—Browntown to Sawyer (sealcoat)
For a map showing improvements on Weesaw Roads from 2007-2017, click here.
FYI/FAQ: All About Roads
General Road Information
Weesaw Township has over 73 miles of roads, 28 miles of primary and 45 miles of secondary roads. The most recent survey of our roads by the the Berrien County Road Department made the following evaluation:
Road miles rated “good”: 6.5 miles, 9% of Township roads
Road miles rated “fair”: 20.2 miles, 28%
Road miles rated “poor”: 46.5 miles, 64%
For a 2018 map showing the Road Department rating of Weesaw roads, click here. Green = good, yellow = fair, red = poor.
What’s the difference between primary and secondary roads?
In each county, the county road commissioners or road department identifies which roads are most important to county transportation and designates them as “primary roads.” All other public roads are designated as “local” or “secondary” roads. In Weesaw Township, primary roads include Browntown, Cleveland, Sawyer, Mill, Glendora, Warren Woods, Kruger, and Galien-Buchanan. Generally speaking, county road commissions decide when specific primary roads require maintenance or repair. Local roads are selected for maintenance or repair by township boards in discussion with county road commissions. You can spot a primary road by the white stripes at the road’s edge.
What causes potholes?
Potholes occur as the result of melting ice and snow. The melting water drains under the pavement through cracks caused by traffic. As the temperatures begin freezing at night, the water becomes ice and expands under the pavement, forcing the pavement to lift. As traffic continues to drive over this section of road and the temperatures rise above freezing, a shallow divot occurs under the road and the pavement breaks. A pothole is formed as a result. Potholes are mainly patched using county road commission patch trucks. (adapted from the Berrien County Road Department website)
Why are Many Weesaw Roads in Poor Condition?
Recent road work in Weesaw Township has improved many miles of our roads. Many other miles of Township roads, however, are in poor condition—bumpy, covered by patches on patches, and, where there are no patches, crisscrossed with alligator cracks and gouged by potholes. Why such bad Weesaw roads?
Terrain and soil—Weesaw Township’s nearly level terrain and widespread clay soils do little to drain rain and snowmelt away from beneath our roads. Our soil is the enemy of our roads.
Poor road construction—when many of Weesaw’s gravel local roads were first paved, the roadbeds were not raised or conditioned for pavement. Failure was built into our roads.
Sealcoat pavement—the thin mixture of stone and asphalt applied as paving to Weesaw roads is an inexpensive, short-term coating for our roads. Our paved local roads were never intended to be durable.
Low road funding—after many years of underfunding of Michigan roads, the taxes and fees that are the primary source for Weesaw road construction were finally increased beginning in 2015. Unfortunately, full funding for our roads will not occur until 2021. Even then, funding will provide only half the dollars needed to improve our roads. No wonder Michigan roads rank last in the nation for quality.
Who Pays for Weesaw Road Work?
The short answer: Everyone who registers a vehicle in Michigan and anyone who pumps Michigan gasoline or diesel fuel helps to pay for Weesaw roads.
The long answer: Drivers who buy fuel in Michigan pay 18.4 cents of federal tax on every gallon, which helps to fund maintenance of primary roads like Cleveland Avenue. Drivers also pay Michigan state and local fuel taxes (26 cents per gallon in 2019), which, along with vehicle registration fees, go into the Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF). Eventually, a percentage of MTF funds is paid to the Berrien County Road Department (BCRD). Using a complex formula, BCRD devotes a portion of these revenues to maintaining Weesaw Township’s primary and local roads.
According to Public Act 51, Michigan’s road law, such road work is the responsibility of county road departments and commissions. However, Michigan law does indicate that counties and townships may contribute additional money for road maintenance when road improvements will cost more than the state has provided. Due to low state funding, Weesaw voters have voted 3 times for a two-year, 1-mill road millage that has enabled us to repave nearly 20 miles of local roads.
Throughout Michigan, 29 counties supplement MTF funds with county-wide road millages, and more than 1,000 townships spend portions of their own money for road maintenance and construction. In Berrien County, eleven townships have passed township road millages to raise extra funds. And in Weesaw, between 2006 and 2012, the Township Board spent nearly $300,000 out of its General Fund to add to the $1.2 million spent by the Berrien County Road Commission. Between 2014 and 2020, Weesaw will have spent over $500,000 of millage funding to improve its roads.
A New Local Road Policy in Berrien County. Recently, the newly created Berrien County Road Department instituted a policy covering the rebuilding of township local roads. These roads will continue to receive standard maintenance (patching, mowing, and snowplowing) paid for by the county. But when deteriorated local roads require complete rebuilding, townships must contribute funding, dollar for dollar, from millages or other sources, in order to receive matching county funding to rebuild and repave its local roads.
In other words, if Weesaw is to continue to receive county and state funds to rebuild its worst local roads, it must find money to contribute. Otherwise, failed local roads will be ground up and returned to gravel. This new policy makes the Weesaw Road Millage more important than ever to maintaining our local roads.
What does it cost to maintain a Weesaw Road?
Filling potholes--$2,000-$10,000 per mile
Crack sealing--$2,000-$5,000 per mile
Shoulder grading with gravel added--$7,200 per mile
Pulverizing failed pavement and adding gravel--$40,000 per mile
Cleaning ditches--$16,000 per mile
Sealcoat repaving--$20,500 per mile
Double sealcoat following new construction--$45,000 per mile
Three-inch-thick asphalt paving--$150,000 per mile
Want more road information? For more information about Weesaw Township and Berrien County roads, visit the website of the Berrien County Road Department here.
About the Weesaw Township Road Committee
The Weesaw Township Road Committee is an all-volunteer committee created by the Weesaw Township Board. We provide information and advice to the Board regarding the maintenance and improvement of township roads. We meet the first Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Township Hall (the corner of State and Berrien streets, New Troy, MI). We welcome the public to visit our meetings and share their thoughts about our roads, and we always invite new members to join us. For more information, contact Gary Sommers, Road Committee Chair and Township Supervisor, at 269-326-1120 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our members are:
Gary Sommers, Chair and Weesaw Township Supervisor
Jack Dodds, Secretary
Wanda Green, Township Board Liaison
Weesaw Township Road Committee 2019-2020 Meeting Calendar:
April 2, 2019
January 7, 2020