Road 'nightmare' causes big problems for parents taking kids to school in Commerce Township

Posted at 3:37 PM, Mar 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-25 04:29:27-04

COMMERCE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — Getting Around Metro Detroit has its share of frustrations. In Commerce Township, it's a road leading to an elementary school that has parents fed up. Not because of potholes or construction but because some days, they need 4 wheel drive to get to the pick/up drop off point.

When Commerce Elementary School was built back in the early 1900s kids were probably taken to school on horseback, but in 2019 some parents don't find dirt roads practical or charming.

From loudly chirping birds perched in many tall trees lining these neighborhood dirt roads, it's a nature lovers dream! A modern parent's nightmare.

"Every day, going back and forth, it’s bad for our cars," says Lisa Lapratt.

Farr Street is one of the most frequently groomed dirt roads in Oakland County, but it also carries heavy daily traffic: parents and buses bringing kids to and from Commerce Elementary School.

"It’s not very fun. The kids say they bounce up and down in the buses and cars get filthy," says Shayna Levin.

When it rains, this dirt road gets even dirtier.

Elon Marino says her kids wear special shoes to walk along Farr Street.

"Oh yeah! And the kids have to leave them outside because they are up to here with mud!" says Marino.

"I think this road is terrible and I think it needs to be paved," says Levin.

Since it is a county-owned road, we reached out to Craig Bryson with the Oakland County Road Commission. Bryson says Farr Street has been a dirt road for nearly 100 years and the only way to get it paved, is to get a special assessment. That special assessment would require the majority of people living on the road to agree to pay more than 2 million dollars for the upgrade.

Because the school district owns such a large piece of property on the street, they’d also have to bear a large chunk of the financial burden.

That’s not going to happen. Paving Farr Street would cost over $2 million.

"Walled Lake Schools has clear priorities," says Judy Evola, the Director of Community Relations for Walled Lake Consolidated School District.

She says, they are trying to find money to pay for crucial upgrades in the districts 19 schools.

"Right now walled lake schools has a $316 million dollar no tax increase bond on the May ballot. That bond is for new roofs, boilers, electrical systems, new educational environments at all 19 of our schools, to rebuild a school that was built in 1928, to upgrade Western High School," says Evola.

"We simply can’t spend our money paving a road when we have safety, security and building needs in all of our schools," says Evola.

She is asking all parents to educate themselves on the bond at and vote in May.

"We’re sorry for the inconvenience of this road, but our children come first," says Evola.

Though Commerce Township doesn't own Farr Street or have the rights to make changes, we asked the supervisor if he would consider donating money to help get it paved. He said no.

Adding that if the township were to make a contribution to the neighborhood in the future, it would be to add sidewalks so kids have a safe pathway to walk to and from school.