Special Council Mtg: East Stadium Bridges

A special meeting of the Ann Arbor city council has been called on the topic of the East Stadium bridges project. The meeting is to be held on Monday, April 11, at 7 p.m. in city council chambers. The city council already has a work session scheduled at the same time and venue, when city administrator Roger Fraser will be presenting his proposed fiscal year 2012 budget to the council.

Reportedly, the purpose of this second special meeting for the bridge replacement project is to consider revised wording for at least one of the easements that the city council already approved at its April 4 meeting in connection with this project.

Easements approved by the council on that occasion were: 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 city was able to get $800,000 in TIGER II federal funds formally “obligated” for the first right-of-way phase of the project. The city council held a previous special meeting on March 16, 2011 to sign the necessary agreement to get those funds obligated.

The approval of the easements at the April 4 meeting was supposed to allow the city to proceed with getting $13.1 million in TIGER II grant funds obligated. Those funds have already been awarded for the second phase of the bridge replacement project. A continuing federal budget resolution passed by the U.S. Congress – which would preserve the TIGER II funding – expired on April 8, threatening to shut down the entire federal government. Previous proposals by House Republicans have included cuts that would have eliminated the TIGER II funding. However, a last minute deal was struck to keep the federal government operating.

The council is acting with some urgency to get the funds obligated before the TIGER II program is eliminated – if, in fact, it were to be eliminated. One measure of that urgency was that on April 4, immediately after council approved the easements, a recess was called so that the documents could be signed and forwarded to the Michigan Dept. of Transportation.