WLNS TV 6 Lansing: Michigan Roads Getting Worse
Monday, June 16, 2008
It's a bumpy ride on Michigan's roads and it could get worse. That might not surprise anyone who's driven anywhere lately, but a new state report confirms those suspicions. It says the number of Michigan roads in poor condition has nearly doubled since 2004. The number of roads in good or fair condition has fallen by about 10%. The longer we wait to fix those roads, the more expensive it will get. If you thought Michigan's roads were rough and rugged now, just wait. A new state report predicts nearly 45% of the states' paved roads will be in poor condition by 2018.
Bill Shreck, MDOT: "They're finding we have less resources to take care of more and more roads."
Bill Conklin: "We in the road business feel like this is quite urgent."
Bill Conklin heads the Ingham County Road Commission. He says it all comes down to dollars and cents. The road money raised by the state and federal gas tax is going down as gas prices go up and drivers cut back.
Bill Conklin: "Our revenue is tied to the gallon and not the price of gas."
At the same time, road commissions pay those skyrocketing fuel prices, $2 a gallon last year, almost $4 now. That's not all, the cost of raw materials needed to patch up roads, like asphalt, has gone up more than 50% in just the past four years.
Bill Conklin: "Costs continue to chip away at our purchasing power."
Conklin says the lack of funding means many roads won't get fixed, and the longer they wait, the worse the roads get, and the more it'll cost to fix in the long run.
Bill Conklin: "Because you have to totally dig is out and start from scratch."
He says that means we can either pay now or pay a lot more down the road. Groups like the Michigan infrastructure and transportation association say they've been sounding the alarm about the lack of road funding for years. They say it's time to get creative and look for new ways to bring in more road funding, like increasing driver registration fees or the gas tax.
Mike Nystrom, MI Infrastructure & Transportation Association.: "We've been calling on the Legislature to make this a priority. It has to become a priority, it hurts us economically, public safety, it impacts everyone across the state."
The governor has put together a task force to look at ways to better fund transportation. They'll have their preliminary findings in November.