The January 17 emergency closing of a deteriorating I-75 overpass that 22,500 drivers travel every day is a prime example of why the Legislature needs to act now on Gov. Rick Snyder’s request to increase funding for road and bridge repairs.
The 50-year-old University Drive overpass in Auburn Hills, which will be closed for at least a week for emergency short-term repairs, has a critical condition with the beams that inspectors found earlier last week, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).
“Emergency closings such as what has happened in Auburn Hills will become more commonplace unless we invest in our infrastructure now,” said Mike Nystrom, executive vice president of the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA). “Not fixing our bridges now will also cost us even more in the long run, as deterioration continues and short-term fixes are no longer viable options.”
According to a recent survey by “Better Roads” magazine, based on Federal Highway Administration data, there are 2,586 structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges in Michigan. That represents 24 percent of Michigan’s 10,944 state and local bridges.
While Michigan’s bridges are ailing, neighboring states are doing better, according to the “Better Roads” report. The percentages of structurally deficient/functionally obsolete bridges in those states are as follows: Minnesota, 13 percent; Wisconsin,14 percent; Illinois,16 percent; Indiana, 21 percent; and Ohio, 21 percent.
“Looking at the state’s infrastructure performance dashboards, the condition of our bridges is headed in the wrong direction, having declined between 2011 and 2012, ” Nystrom added. “And that is not the only performance indicator related to infrastructure that is worsening. Traffic deaths and injuries are also on the rise; and, we are dealing with an unprecedented early pothole season – including a pothole in Detroit on Jefferson Avenue which shut down two lanes of traffic and ironically was right around the corner from the Detroit Auto Show.”
Nystrom added that with increased funding for roads and bridges, Michigan will be able to avoid many of the major issues that accompany a lack of funding: the tragedy of road fatalities; traffic congestion from bridge closings and potholes; and costly car repairs caused by potholes.
“Michigan drivers deserve infrastructure that supports their lives rather than tries their patience and puts them at risk,” Nystrom said. “We are ready to partner with the Governor and the Legislature to pass a long-term funding solution for our bridges and roads.”
MITA represents a broad spectrum of heavy construction companies and suppliers that help build a better Michigan infrastructure from the bottom up. For more information, visit www.mi-ita.com.