Pothole Season "Worst in History": Evidence presented to House Appropriations Sub-Committee on Transportation
LANSING — Compelling evidence presented by transportation leaders to the House Appropriations Sub-Committee on Transportation confirms that this is likely the worst pothole season in history. With three times as many motorist complaints as last year, transportation leaders fear that unless current funding levels change, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.
“It’s a simple issue of economics: Gov. Granholm’s $150 million bonding program cannot replace the need for $1 billion per year,” said Mike Nystrom, vice president of government and public relations for the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA) and co-chair of the Michigan Transportation Team (MTT). “This ‘pave today, pay tomorrow’ philosophy needs to change.”
Michigan has an annual funding shortfall of $700 million for its state transportation system and a shortfall of more than $2 billion for local roads. This funding pothole is due to massive cuts to the state’s road and bridge program because of declining gas tax revenues. With the 2009 Transportation Budget already labeled a “continuation budget,” we can expect more of the same.
“As bad as the potholes are today, things are going to get a lot worse,” said Keith Ledbetter, director of legislative affairs for MITA. “This year’s state road and bridge program dropped by $300 million or 18 percent. Motorists hoping for relief this year from potholes and congested roads will be disappointed.”
Motorists appear to be fed up with Michigan’s crumbling and congested roads. A contest sponsored by MTT, which allows motorists a chance to locate and photograph the state’s largest, car-devouring pothole, has three times as many entries as in 2007, in only the first two weeks. The contest runs through Friday, March 28, and will award three $318 “service center scholarships” ¬ to each of the top three entrants who report the worst potholes. The average Michigan motorist spends $318 a year in vehicle repairs and time lost due to driving on deteriorated, congested roads and bridges.