Bridge in a Box
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Posted by: Nancy Brown
Christmas came early for lawmakers today when 148 boxes filled with fallen concrete from bridges across Michigan was delivered to their Lansing offices.
“Just like the bad kid at Christmas, legislators got a big lump of coal in the form of dilapidated infrastructure to remind them Michigan’s roads and bridges are crumbling on their watch,” said Mike Nystrom, vice-president of government and public relations for Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA) and co-chair of Michigan’s Transportation Team.
Currently there are more than 3,000 structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges in Michigan — twice that of Minnesota.
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has compiled a list of more than 200 critical bridges — one in every six of these bridges is not scheduled for repair during the next five years due to a lack of available resources.
“Now more than ever, Michigan needs to invest in our infrastructure to prevent another tragedy like the one that occurred in Minnesota,” Nystrom said. “Despite this fact, Michigan is scheduled to receive even less money for infrastructure maintenance and improvements in the coming years.”
MDOT is forecasting a 40 percent drop in road funding for 2007-2009 because of declining gas tax and bond revenues. It is estimated that Michigan has a $700 million annual shortfall in maintaining the MDOT-managed system and at least $2 billion in additional needs at the local level.
“Nationally, Michigan is in the top 10 for unsafe bridges,” Nystrom added. “Our care package that was delivered today should serve as a wake up call to Lansing that we must have additional investments in our infrastructure. When pieces of bridges start falling on people’s cars — which happened just a few months ago — we’ve got a serious problem.”