michigan roads

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, Michigan lawmakers are expected to continue discussing ways to spend more money to fix state roads. It’s estimated the state has to come up with at least $1.2 billion annually to repair Michigan’s aging and crumbling roads and bridges.

In May, voters rejected a proposal to increase fuel and sales tax rates to pay for fixing the roads.

Most of the proposals on the table now include tapping existing state revenues. The general fund is used to fund most state government programs.    

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

If you think your morning commute is taking longer in Grand Rapids and Detroit, a new report says you’re right.

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s annual Urban Mobility Scorecard shows it’s taking longer for many Michigan motorists to get around.

AAA

More cars and trucks with flat tires are pulling over to the sides of Michigan’s roads.

AAA Michigan spokeswoman Susan Hilts says its road service providers are fixing more flat tires this summer than usual.

As you probably know, the latest effort to reach a compromise to fix Michigan’s roads collapsed this week, as have all the others. 

Yesterday I suggested one possible solution: Forget talking about taxes. Instead, raise the price of gasoline 30 cents a gallon and call that “user fee,” and use the money to fix the roads.

http://www.gofundme.com/8r4m7ukx4m

Everybody gripes about Michigan's potholes.

But in Hamtramck, a group of friends is raising money to fix their roads themselves.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week in Michigan Politics, political analyst Jack Lessenberry talks about Wayne County’s financial crisis and the plans to fix it, children in poverty, the roads stalemate, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s trip to Japan. 

Money troubles for Wayne County

Wayne County, Michigan’s most populous county, is facing a financial crisis.

Victor Li with a sample of his self-healing concrete
Victor Li

Michigan isn’t alone in the struggle to repair crumbling roads and bridges.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America's infrastructure a grade of "D" based on years of underfunding and delayed maintenance.

Victor Li may have the key to solving this nationwide struggle.

The University of Michigan civil and environmental engineering professor has invented self-healing concrete. It can bend, and if it cracks, it can repair itself.

Well, as you probably know, the legislature has still done virtually nothing to fix the roads. Once again, the State Senate and House have passed wildly different plans.

The Senate bill is honest enough to include some new revenue, which it would get largely by raising the tax on fuel. But it also calls for cutting Michigan’s already bare-bones general fund by $700 million a year, without saying where the cuts would come from.

user Tyrone Warner / Flickr

This week in Michigan Politics, political analyst Jack Lessenberry talks about a new law affecting Michigan workers, a plan to fix the roads that increases the gas tax, the high cost of information, and government officials looking at the effects of the same sex marriage ruling.

The "Pure Michigan" campaign highlights beautiful and memorable places and experiences in Michigan.
user PunkToad / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

State lawmakers are searching for money to fix the roads, and they’ve been eyeing the budget of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and its “Pure Michigan” campaign.

The MEDC’s funding was reduced by $15 million with the recently passed budget.

Potholes are a familiar obstacle on Michigan roads.
Flickr user Michael Gil / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Drivers can all agree: Potholes are a fact of life here in Michigan. But does it have to be that way?

Jack Lessenberry’s recent opinion piece for Dome Magazine, Why Budapest Has Better Roads, examines Central Europe’s approach to infrastructure.

The difference, he says, would be shocking to Michiganders. “I drove hundreds and hundreds of miles on roads in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, former East Germany, without seeing anything we in Michigan would call a pothole,” he says.

To parody Winston Churchill, this year’s Battle of the Budget is Over; the Battle of the Roads is about to begin. The legislature passed the general fund budget this week with rather less fuss than I would have expected, given some of the controversial decisions.

Budget tiles
Simon Cunningham / Flickr

The state has completed the 2016 budget. Republicans and Democrats celebrated an increase in education funding and early literacy programs.

The Legislature also carved out money for Michigan roads, but not the estimated $2 billion needed annually to fix the state's crumbling infrastructure.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

After the failure of Proposal 1 in the May 5 election, Michigan Radio and Public Sector Consultants wanted to figure out why. This past weekend we polled 600 likely voters about their thoughts on the recent ballot proposal.

Proposal 1 was meant to fund Michigan road repair and included increased funding for schools and other provisions.

State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Legislature is entering another round of negotiations to raise money for Michigan’s roads, following a decisive defeat of Proposal 1.

Jennifer White spoke to Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, about the politics of getting a viable roads funding plan passed. 

Here's their conversation:

If there’s one thing that defines us as a people, it may be how much we love fantasy. That’s why men in their fifties comb over that bald spot and go to singles bars, and why others still imagine they will someday see the Detroit Lions in the Super Bowl.

Michigan roads
user nirbhao / Flickr

Proposal 1 was rejected by voters in yesterday’s special election. That takes Gov. Rick Snyder and the state Legislature back to table to try to come up with a way to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads. What are the political implications of this defeat for Gov. Snyder and for the Republican-led legislature?

When the magnitude of Proposal One’s defeat became clear, I called Denise Donahue, director of the County Road Association of Michigan.  Her members know better than anyone how bad our state and local roads are.

Tomorrow, Michigan voters, some of them at least, will go to the polls and decide whether to raise our sales tax from six to seven percent, mainly to fix the roads. Polls show voters badly want the roads fixed, and know this will cost money. But if the polls are correct, Proposal One will also go down to an overwhelming defeat.

Bridge
Justin Razmus / Creative Commons

A report from the Transportation Asset Management Council says the condition of Michigan's bridges has hit a plateau.  

The coalition of government road agencies says the state's bridges will deteriorate in coming years, while the cost to fix them goes up.

Roger Stafford, TAMC's chairman, says it costs four or five times more to fix a bridge that's in poor condition than maintaining one in good or fair condition.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Next Idea 

As we near the vote to raise the sales tax to fund our abysmal roads, we’ve heard this question come up quite a bit these last few months:

“Why couldn’t the Legislature just do the job they were elected to do instead of passing responsibility off to the voters?”

The short answer -- and you’re not going to like this -- is that it is not their fault.

It’s ours.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

About two-thirds of Michigan roads get no federal funding. Once you get off the interstates and highways, most of the county, city, and township roads are totally reliant on state and local taxes. A new survey indicates nearly half of those 80,000 miles of roads are in poor condition.

The numbers come from the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council.

A number of people have been outraged that I haven’t denounced the Constitutional amendment that would raise the sales tax, largely to fix the roads.

Well, in a less imperfect world, this is indeed not how legislation should be made.

As everyone knows, we are in the middle of a great statewide debate about whether to raise the sales tax to pay for our roads. Last week, someone asked me a different question about the whole road repair process.

A new poll indicates voters will turn down a road funding proposal on the ballot in May. Target Insyght conducted the poll commissioned by the political news service MIRS. “Fifty-five percent of voters say if today the election was held they would vote ‘no’ against it,” said Ed Sarpolus with Target Insyght.

Sarah Hulett/Michigan Radio

The Next Idea

You’ve heard the impassioned arguments about public transportation in Michigan. Let’s start with the rational. Our roads are among the worst in the nation. Our lawmakers have clearly demonstrated that they are not up to the task of maintaining our aging infrastructure. Michigan, a state known for producing automobiles, has become a place where it is increasingly difficult to drive one.

www.flicr.com

Thirty-eight percent of the main city and county streets and state highways are in poor condition, according to the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council - a significant jump  from last year's 33 percent.

The Council sends out 100 teams of drivers every year to assess the condition of Michigan roads. 

Politicians never like to admit that life will go on if one of their programs is rejected. Many years ago I remember seeing Richard Nixon asked what he would do if by some chance he wasn’t elected president.

Road in need of repair.
Peter Ito / Flickr

Proposal 1 is the road funding proposal that will be up for a vote on May 5th. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce has long expressed their support for a road funding solution, but they are staying neutral on the proposal.

michigan.gov

Gov. Rick Snyder is getting some tough questions about the May ballot proposal to boost road funding at his education and economic summit this week in Detroit.

The plan would raise the state’s sales tax from 6% to 7% and boost road funding by about a $1 billion a year.

Pages