roads

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More than half of Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids' roads are in poor condition, according to a recent study by the transportation research group TRIP. That makes them some of the worst in the nation.

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.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry explains the latest road funding proposal, an effort by the Snyder administration to prevent sexual assault on college campuses and the latest on efforts to help ease the foreclosure crisis in Wayne County.

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.

A Minute with Mike: The Oracle

Jun 2, 2015
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Vic Reyes

I've dusted off the old 8-ball Ouija-tron to find out what's happening in future Michigan.

Dateline: Lansing, December 2034

In what some describe as a desperate move, state officials will sell the naming rights to Michigan highways and byways as a way to generate money for road repair.

Lawmakers were proud to introduce the Roads Ain't Cheap Act.

Prosperity for the Prosperous spokesperson Renee Barbarella Jr. says it's a great move by Michigan, and taxpayers should be ecstatic with road funding shifting from John Q. Citizen to Big Corporate Brother.

How a pothole forms gif animation
Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

After Proposal  1 was voted down earlier this month, the message from voters seemed to be that they wanted a bill that simply addressed road funding. No extra politics, special interests or provisions.

So what happens when you strip away the politics of road repair? What goes into the actual, well, road repair?

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.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Voters said no Tuesday to Proposal 1 by a margin of almost four-to-one. But, as unhappy as people were with the ballot question, they’re still unhappy with the state of Michigan’s roads. 

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.

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.

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Michigan voters head to the polls in less than a month to vote on a ballot proposal to raise the state's sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent to fund roads. For this Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry explains why there's a lack of support for the proposal and what will happen if voters reject the tax increase. 


Gov. Rick Snyder.
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Governor Rick Snyder was at the Michigan Radio studios earlier today for a special call-in program, taking your questions. The show was hosted by Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He is also the co-host along with Zoe Clark of It's Just Politics.

Ryan Elder

One way to prevent accidents might come from redesigning road signs. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The first TV ad urging passage of a Michigan sales tax increase says the roads aren't just bad, they're dangerous.

A group backing a "yes" vote on a May ballot measure will start airing the 30-second ad Monday.
 

It features a mid-Michigan mother who says her family is on the road a lot for kids' basketball and soccer, and she worries about concrete falling from bridges.

The I-96/23 Interchange only approximates a "Thunderdome." To find the real thing, you would, of course, have to go Burning Man.
Matthew Gordon / Flickr

The I-96/US 23 highway interchange can be like Thunderdome - two cars enter, one car leaves.

But that's about to change.

MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) is set to make what it calls "major safety and operational improvements" to how cars and trucks merge and exit the two major highway systems next month.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

GRAND HAVEN, Mich.  - Another round of winter weather is expected to make travel difficult in parts of Michigan as bitterly cold temperatures moderate somewhat.

Temperatures on Tuesday morning ranged from just above zero to the low 20s. It was 6 in Detroit, 7 in Grand Rapids and 17 in Traverse City.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A new report says the Michigan Department of Transportation has done a poor job of ensuring that road builders repair problems with their work.

Michigan started a warranty program to ensure road builders come back and repair problems. The report says the state hasn’t followed up to ensure the work gets done. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In the very final hours of lame duck last December, state lawmakers slapped together a complicated road funding package that is proposal one, which citizens will be voting on in May.

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Some state lawmakers want to give voters an alternative to the May 5th ballot proposal to boost funding for roads. That measure would raise the sales tax from six percent to seven percent.

State Representative Anthony Forlini wants to pass a backup plan to raise the money. It would only take effect if voters reject the sales tax increase.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Jackson city council tonight will discuss asking voters for a big tax hike to pay to repair the city’s crumbling roads.

Like other Michigan cities, Jackson’s roads have been getting worse for several years.

Michigan lawmakers want you to decide on roads.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative leaders have struck a deal on road funding.

After many, many closed-door meetings, the announcement was made at a news conference at the Capitol.

To get to more than $1 billion in funding, the centerpiece of the plan is an increase in the state sales tax. It’s something voters would have to decide in a ballot question in May.

Snyder says that’s OK with him.

Listen to our conversation with Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark below.

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Governor Rick Snyder and legislative leaders have struck a road funding deal. It would be paid for by asking voters to approve a sales tax increase from the current 6 percent to 7 percent. That would be on the statewide ballot in May.

The Republican-led Legislature is expected to vote on the plan later today.

State Senator Randy Richardville
Photo courtesy of www.senate.michigan.gov

The state Legislature is taking steps to hammer out a road funding compromise in the final days of its 2014 session.

The House and Senate passed plans that are drastically different. The Senate approved legislation that would essentially double the state’s gas tax to pay for road improvements. The House plan would divert revenues from schools and local governments and would not raise any taxes.

Rick Pluta / MPRN

Governor Rick Snyder says a plan adopted by the state House to shift sales taxes collected on fuel sales to roads won’t work. He says that could rob schools and local governments of money they need to operate.

State Capitol
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Each Thursday we talk Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants. 

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This week, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss a plan to help Michigan roads by cutting truck weight limits, whether any road fix plans will survive the lame duck session, and a possible end to federal oversight of the state’s foster care system.


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State lawmakers return to Lansing this week after a two week break for deer hunting and Thanksgiving.

Every Republican and Democratic leader at the state Capitol says fixing Michigan’s roads will be the top priority between now and the end of the year.

“Certainly, the primary focus will be on discovering a solution for funding of transportation in Michigan, specifically roads and bridges that are in desperate need of repair,” said Ari Adler, a spokesperson for state House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall.

Adler says the speaker wants more taxes paid at the pump to go to roads.

Stateside for Monday, November 3, 2014

Nov 3, 2014

  Today on Stateside: 

  • Kathy Gray, Lansing bureau reporter for the Detroit Free Press, walks us through what the State House and Senate could look like after the midterm elections.

  • We discuss Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s announcement to shed Ferrari and what it could mean for the company.

  • West Michigan native and creator of the now infamous video of a woman receiving catcalls while walking around New York City talks to us about what led him to creating this video.

  • Dr. Maria Silvera, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, spoke to us about what Brittany Maynard's fight for the right-to-die issue could mean for the movement in Michigan.

  • Stateside’s It’s Just Politics team tells us about 5 things to watch in the upcoming election.

  • Roads are an increasingly important issue for many Michigan voters, but little is being accomplished to improve their crumbling conditions. What can be done if legislation fails to pass again?

*Listen to the full show above

Morgue File

 

The candidates for governor agree something needs to be done about Michigan's crumbling roads.

In our recent conversation with MSU economist Charlie Ballard, he reminded us that we're going to pay for road repairs one way or another. Maybe higher taxes or, in Ballard's case, paying now, with blown tires and bent rims.

But, is there some kind of silver lining to the crummy roads? Maybe for local repair shops?

Rick Kilbourn owns 4th Street Auto Care in Royal Oak. He's been in business since the 1970's.

Researchers are going to find out how well rubberized asphalt will resist potholes.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A group of researchers at Michigan Technological University is conducting tests to find out if traditional asphalt mixed with rubber from scrap tires could make better roads in Michigan.

The research, led by civil and environmental engineering department chair David Hand, has been granted $1.2 million from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Professor Zhanping You has been studying the technology of rubberized asphalt for eight years. He says rubber-added asphalt can make roads more durable and make life easier for drivers.

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