Ann Arbor City Council special meeting (April 11, 2011): This week the Ann Arbor city council held its second special meeting in the last two months, both in connection with the city’s planned East Stadium bridges replacement project. At the April 11 meeting, a provision common to three separate easements granted by the University of Michigan, and previously approved by the city council at its April 4 meeting, was deleted from those easement grants by request of the Federal Highway Administration and the Michigan Dept. of Transportation.
The easements are necessary for the city to proceed with its plan to replace the East Stadium bridges over State Street and the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks. The city has been awarded a total of $13.9 million in TIGER II federal grant funding to pay for the project, which has an estimated total cost of $23 million. Factoring in $2.87 million in state funds, that leaves the city of Ann Arbor’s share for the bridge replacement at $6.2 million. The federal funds require that at least 20% of the funding for the project come from non-federal sources.
Easements approved by the council include: a road right-of-way easement from the University of Michigan for $563,400; two utilities easements from UM totaling $426,650; and an unrecorded water utilities easement.
The deleted provision in the easements had provided for a relocation of facilities, but only if it were allowed by law and specifically approved by the Michigan Dept. of Transportation – otherwise, relocation was prohibited. Because relocation is prohibited by law in any case, MDOT took the view that the provision should not appear in the contract; hence, the change to the wording was requested. It is an administrative change, not a substantive one.
By holding a previous special meeting on March 16, 2011 to sign necessary documents, the council was able to get $800,000 of TIGER II federal funds formally “obligated” for the first right-of-way phase of the project. The remaining $13.1 million in TIGER II funds is expected to be obligated sometime in May.
The meeting began with city clerk Jackie Beaudry reading aloud the official call for the special meeting. The meeting had been formally requested by mayor pro tem Marcia Higgins the previous Friday, April 8, in a message to city administrator Roger Fraser: “This email will serve as a written request to you per the charter, in my capacity as Mayor Pro Tem, to schedule a Special Meeting of Council at 7 p.m., April 11, 2011 to consider revised wording for the needed easements for the Stadium Bridge Project.”
The charter provision to which Higgins referred is the following:
Section 4.4 (b) Special meetings of the Council shall be held at the regular meeting place thereof and shall be called by the Clerk on written request of the Mayor or any three members of the Council. Written notice stating the time and purpose of a special meeting shall be delivered to each member of the Council or left at the member’s usual place of residence at least three hours prior to the time set for the meeting. The Clerk shall record a certificate of service of notice in the journal of such meeting. A special meeting may be held notwithstanding lack of notice if all members are present, or if a quorum is present and each absent member has filed with the Clerk a written waiver of notice. A vote taken by the Council at a prior meeting shall not be reconsidered at a special meeting, unless as many members are present as were present when the original vote was taken. Except by unanimous consent of all members of the Council, a matter shall not be acted upon at any special meeting unless it has been included in the notice of the meeting.
The council had already planned to meet for a working session on the city’s fiscal 2012 budget. That working session immediately followed the special meeting, which lasted about three minutes.
At the request of Tony Derezinski (Ward 2), assistant city attorney Mary Fales explained that the Michigan Dept. of Transportation had implemented a different administrative procedure for reviewing FHWA grants. After the April 4 meeting of the council, when the council had already given its approval to the easements, MDOT had asked for an administrative change, which meant that it needed to come back in front of the council for approval.
The change in language – across three different easements agreements – was simply to delete a section that provided for conditions under which the facilities to be constructed could be relocated. In part, the section read:
(d) All relocation shall be performed only when permitted by and in accordance with Applicable Law and the requirements of any state or federal grant through which the Permitted Facilities were constructed. The Permitted Facilities will be constructed using funds from a grant from The National Infrastructure Investments Discretionary Grant Program (TIGER II Discretionary Grants) (“Grant”), which Grant prohibits termination of the Easement or any relocation of the Permitted Facilities, unless otherwise determined by MDOT (the Michigan Department of Transportation) or FHWA (the Federal Highway Administration) or their successor entities. [.pdf of all language struck from the easements]
Fales told The Chronicle that the city’s view was consistent with MDOT’s – that applicable law would prevent relocation of any facilities. Because applicable law would prevent relocation, MDOT’s view was that the language should not appear in the contract. The prohibition against relocation is reflected in other laws, not in the easement contract.
In a follow-up phone interview with Homayoon Pirooz, the city’s head of project management, he said that the formal obligation of the $13.1 million for the project’s construction phase is expected in May.
Outcome: The council voted unanimously to approve the language change.
Bridge Construction Milestones: Road Closures Nov. 28, 2011
At a March 23 meeting held at Pioneer High School, the city’s project manager for the replacement project, Michael Nearing, gave the public an update on the construction plans. He stressed to attendees that if they remembered nothing else from the meeting, they should remember the date of Nov. 28, 2011 – that’s when the bridges will be closed for traffic. Stadium Boulevard traffic will be rerouted around the bridge for roughly a year. A schedule of key milestones:
- 2011 Oct. 3: Notice to Proceed issued to contractor
- 2011 Nov. 26: Last home football game UM v. OSU
- 2011 Nov. 28: Close Stadium Blvd. and detour traffic [.pdf of Stadium Blvd. detour route]
- 2011 Nov. 28: Close State Street and detour traffic [.pdf of State Street detour route]
- 2011 Dec. 13: Re-open State Street to 2-way traffic with construction zone
- 2012 May 3: Detour northbound State Street/ Maintain southbound State Street with construction zone
- 2012 July 11: Re-open State Street to full traffic
- 2012 Nov. 14: Re-open Stadium Boulevard to full traffic
- 2013 May 30: Project Complete.
Present: Stephen Rapundalo, Mike Anglin, Margie Teall, Sabra Briere, Tony Derezinski, Stephen Kunselman, Marcia Higgins, John Hieftje, Christopher Taylor, Carsten Hohnke.
Absent: Sandi Smith.
Next council meeting: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at 301 E. Huron. [confirm date] As of April 18, the Ann Street entrance to city hall will be closed – the only entrance into the building will be off of Huron Street.