Rock the Road Commission: Should the Latson Road interchange stay, or should it go?

That’s the question before the Livingston County Road Commission on the long-planned Latson Road/I-96 interchange. It’s a huge question, what many these days call a “game-changer,” and weirdly reminiscent (at least to me) of The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

I want to know what you think. Should the Latson Road interchange be built, or should we scrap the project in favor of some county roadwork? Take LivingstonTalk’s quick-and-easy poll just to your right.

Consider that the project, which has been in development for nearly two decades and delayed over and over because of its scope and the funding needed, would change life as it’s known in the heart of Livingston County.

Today, the $31 million in funding for the project, as well as most of the real estate required to build it, is in place. But there’s a move afoot to take about 20 percent of the funding — $6 million: $4.8 million from the federal government, with a $1.2 million match by the county road commission — to fund county road improvement. The majority of the funding for the project — the first full interchange between Brighton and Howell — comes from a Congressional appropriation, and, as such, can only be used on the Latson Road interchange project. If it’s not used to build the interchange, we’ll lose access to those funds.

Do the county roads need improving? Of course they do. Few roads in Michigan these days can’t use some fixing. But if part of the money from the big-picture Latson Road project — in development for 20 years — is diverted to smaller-picture county roads, the much-needed interchange will likely never, ever be built.

Somehow, I don’t like those odds.

Crappy roads have never been a barrier to growth in Livingston County. Think of all the subdivisions off dirt roads. Heck, consider the schools in the county built on dirt roads! But consider, too, the amazing growth on Latson Road — mostly all commercial, with a few big residential projects thrown into the mix — and the pressure all of it places on the area. There’s no way to get across I-96 on Latson Road, and huge trucks rumble through historical downtown Howell via the I-96/D-19 exit.

The plan, if the project moves forward, will build an interchange at I-96; widen Latson Road to five lanes north of Grand River Avenue and seven lanes south; relocate Beck Road east and west of Nixon Road, and Grand Oaks Drive at Latson Road; and pave Nixon Road. The project will relieve traffic pressure, open up more areas for commercial development and improve travel for emergency services and school buses. If the project moves forward, construction would take place through 2012.

The Road Commission is meeting again on Thursday, Oct. 28, to consider what to do. Its final decision will be made on Nov. 11.

What do you think should be done? It’s easy to make your opinion known — just click on the poll.

And one thing I know for sure: I love The Clash!

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