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michigan roads

One of my morning rituals is that after I have written for a while, I wake up my Australian Shepherd and we engage in a vigorous game of tug of war while I watch the headlines on CNN.

When I did this yesterday, the screen was filled with Anderson Cooper, one of the best interviewers in journalism today, with an excerpt from his interview the night before of a porn star. He was asking her whether her most famous contact had used a condom during their sexual encounter, and as she said no, I turned the TV off.

Road in need of repair.
Peter Ito / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder says it's time to raise the federal gas tax to fix Michigan's disintegrating roads. Snyder says the state has done its part by increasing fees and fuel taxes, and local governments have come up with their own ways to increase revenue. Now, he says its the federal government's turn to step up.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether that's a realistic expectation.


Roads
Wikimedia Commons

Governor Rick Snyder was all relentlessly positive smiles yesterday when he signed a bill adding $175 million dollars to this year’s state’s road repair budget.

“There are roads that actually will get fixed because of this investment. You are going to see a lot of barrels in every corner of Michigan because of this,” the governor added.

pixabay

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a budget bill that accelerates spending on road repairs in time to help with the spring and summer construction season.

The bill shifts $175 million from next year’s construction season to use this coming spring and summer to fix roads.

“You’re going to see a lot of (orange) barrels in every corner of Michigan,” he said.

But this spending on repairs is still not expected to keep pace with the rate at which roads are crumbling following a freeze-and-thaw winter’s that’s been brutal on pavement.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Lansing needs to step up and provide adequate roads funding or else tell local governments they’re on their own, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said Monday.

Hackel blasted the Michigan Legislature’s 2015 “fix” that raised fuel taxes and driver registration fees, but generates far too little revenue for the state’s actual infrastructure needs. He made those remarks as Macomb unveiled a new online resource about county road conditions, and what it will cost to fix them.

Charlotte Finnegan, an MI Curious question asker

It’s pothole season in Michigan, that time of year when drivers really notice the state’s crumbling roads, too often paying the cost in vehicle repairs. Meanwhile, crews are busy patching potholes, but many streets and roads need a lot more than a patch.

Dan Gilmartin is the CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League, which represents cities and villages in the state, got a chance to talk to a U.S. Senate committee about the state of the roads in Michigan.

Courtesy of 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.

Why are Michigan roads so bad? Because we don’t put enough money into fixing them.

Why is that? Because lawmakers don’t fear underfunding the state’s roads will cost them on Election Day.

Potholes are only part of the challenge for motorists trying to survive Michigan's aging roadways
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A snowy winter mixed with a few recent warmer days could make for a particularly nasty pothole season in Michigan.

A Michigan Department of Transportation spokesperson says more people seem to be calling the state’s pipeline hotline this year. So far, more than 500 people have reported problems on roads across the state using the hotline.

Pearl Pirie / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Yesterday, the state of Michigan went through a process called the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference. University and governmental economists met to discuss where the economy is going and what its projections mean for the state budget.

STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO

Roads, bridges, and other infrastructure in Michigan are in pretty bad shape. Michigan does not have the money to tackle some of the biggest projects.

Increasingly, transportation officials are turning to the private sector for help. These public-private partnerships (P3s) are seen as a way to make improvements more efficiently. The real question, though, is whether they really are more efficient or whether they end up costing taxpayers more?

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A new study says Michigan's transportation system is better prepared for climate change than many other Midwest states.

But it's still not enough, according to the Midwest Economic Policy Institute.

Study author Mary Craighead says Michigan will see higher temperatures, heavier rains, increased erosion, and more frequent freeze-thaw cycles.  That will damage bridges, roads and other infrastructure.

Craighead says it's an economic issue for the whole country, not just Michigan.

Orange construction barrels
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 


Gov. Rick Snyder signed a $1.2 billion road funding package in 2015 that called for increased vehicle registration fees and gas taxes, many of which went into effect this year.

In an interview with Stateside this week, Michigan Department of Transportation director Kirk Steudle said the state was “still trying to manage the deterioration,” but the overall quality of roads was yet to rise, despite the fresh tax revenue. But he noted the general fund component of the 2015 funding package has yet to kick in.

Cracked and broken roads
nirbhao / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Roads, bridges, sewer lines, water systems and all the other infrastructure in the state is, by multiple assessments, in trouble in Michigan.

Two studies say the state needs to spend $4 billion a year. The governor wants at least $1.2 billion a year more to get infrastructure back into decent shape.

None of that has happened.

Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

An ethics watchdog organization is asking the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate a Twitter battle that broke out between Michigan Congressman Justin Amash and White House staffer Dan Scavino. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the group's allegations that Amash violated House rules and Scavino violated the Hatch Act

They also discuss a study that shows an increasingly bleak future for Michigan roads and bridges, legislation that would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients, and a report that says roughly $40 million was spent on the state's 14 congressional races in 2016. 

Dvortygirl / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan legislature boosted transportation funding in 2015 - but not enough to keep the condition of state roads and bridges from getting worse, according to a recent report from TRIP, a national transportation research group.  

The report says the additional money will not be enough to fund some $3.3 billion in needed transportation improvement projects.

Roads
Wikimedia Commons

For a few years, we were constantly hearing about how terrible Michigan’s roads were–and how the legislature kept ignoring citizens’ pleas to fix them.

Then, a couple of years ago, lawmakers did enact what was billed as a road repair package. It doesn’t start providing any new money until this year, but four years from now, it's supposed to generate something like $1.2 billion a year to fix the roads.

Doug Kerr / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

New Michigan roadways may soon be getting the green light. 

This comes after the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) released a report earlier this year, announcing pilot projects to test better and longer-lasting road construction.

The report was presented to legislators this month. Gov. Snyder signed a $1.2 billion road improvement bill in 2015 that recommended the state study new ways to build roads.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan motorists will see state taxes on gasoline and diesel jump this weekend.

On New Year’s Day, the gas tax is rising 7.3 cents a gallon.  The diesel tax is increasing by 11 cents.  The increase will give Michigan the 5th highest gas tax in the nation.   

The tax increase, along with state auto fees, will help fund desperately needed road repair and improvements across the state.

Denise Donahue is the director of the County Road Association of Michigan.  She says it’s important for motorists to see the money being used to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads.

Flickr user/_chrisUK / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

As the summer road construction season moves into its final weeks, you might find yourself wondering: instead of pouring time and money into patching roads that crack every year during the winter, why not make better concrete?

Imagine bringing Abraham Lincoln back to life today. What do you suppose he would find most shocking about life in today’s America?

Airplanes? Same-sex marriage? A black president?

Late Saturday afternoon I was in Lansing, driving to an awards ceremony at the state Library of Michigan, when I started hitting a whole bunch of potholes near the Capitol.

“Don’t the legislators drive on these roads?” my sweetheart asked. My flip answer was that I didn’t think most of them went to the library very often.


Road in need of repair.
Peter Ito / Flickr

Some Republicans in the state Senate want to throw out the road funding plan lawmakers passed in 2015 and replace it in 2016.

A new proposal in the Senate would repeal a $1.2 billion funding plan that squeaked through the Legislature just a couple months ago. It would instead raise Michigan’s sales tax rate from six percent to seven percent and dedicate all the new revenue to roads.

Lindsey Scullen/Michigan Radio

Amy Beth Edwards posed this question to our M I Curious team:

Why doesn't road kill get picked up on a timely basis in Michigan?

Edwards says she sees dead animals so often along her commutes to Chicago that she had to know why they're all there.

For the last three years, Governor Rick Snyder has been fighting to try to get the legislature to come up with the money to repair Michigan’s disgracefully bad roads and bridges.

The governor, like most of us, thought better roads were essential. The legislature agreed in principle, but for years, has been unwilling to pass the new taxes needed to fix the roads.

Yes, Virginia, there is a road funding plan

Nov 5, 2015
Cracked and broken roads
nirbhao / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The legislature this week passed a package of bills to fund Michigan roads. The legislation would bump up the state’s gas tax by seven cents per gallon, and boost vehicle registration fees by 20% beginning in 2017. It will increase taxes by $600 million also starting in 2017. The plan will also move $600 million from other areas in the state budget.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

There were feelings of optimism earlier this week in Lansing that the state Senate might just pass a road funding plan the House passed the week before.

But, once again, that optimism has fallen flat, as the House adjourned without a vote after about eight hours of discussion.

Are we there yet? The Senate says no

Oct 29, 2015

The Michigan Legislature may be inching toward a roads funding package. The roughly $1 billion plan would take $600 million from the state’s general fund and could include a rollback in the state income tax rate. It would also increase vehicle registration fees by 40%. While the House has passed the plan, the Michigan Senate scheduled and then delayed a vote on the plan.

Have you ever heard of a “Rube Goldberg machine?” Goldberg was an editorial cartoonist and crazy parody inventor who specialized in ridiculous contraptions.

For example, he had a self-operating napkin with about twenty moving parts that relied on a parrot, a skyrocket and a chain reaction to set off an explosion causing a machine to wipe your chin

The dictionary definition of a Rube Goldberg machine is “an apparatus deliberately over-engineered to perform a simple task in a complicated fashion.”

 The good news is that the Michigan House of Representatives passed a package of road funding bills Wednesday night. Unfortunately, that’s also the bad news.

The truth about this plan was best stated by Business Leaders for Michigan, whose members are not exactly left-wing socialists.

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