Opinion | In Michigan, 'tis another season for massive potholes

Mike Nykstrom

Mike Nystrom is executive vice president of Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association

While we have much to give thanks for this holiday season, a solution from Lansing to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads does not make the list. Instead, another year will end with our state elected leaders failing to pass a solution to fix the roads.

When we elected the current 110 members of the Michigan House of Representatives in November 2018, fixing Michigan’s roads and bridges was the top priority issue for voters. So far, this Michigan Legislature has done what previous legislatures have done for decades – a lot of bipartisan bickering, and no action. That means 2020 will be another year of massive potholes, failing bridges, flat tires and bent rims, all thanks to roads ranked as, or among, the worst in the nation.

In fairness, we can’t blame this Legislature or governor for the condition of our roads. Underfunding Michigan’s infrastructure started decades ago, long before we elected this governor and group of state legislators. However, we can blame both parties for failing, again, to muster the courage and leadership to pass a real solution.

Every expert that has examined Michigan’s infrastructure crisis agrees the state needs to invest $2 billion to $2.5 billion more every year starting now and well into the next two decades just to address today’s identified road and bridge needs. This level of investment is supported by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Business Leaders for Michigan, the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Grand Rapids Chamber, the Lansing Regional Chamber, many other employer organizations, every reputable independent study done to date, most Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature, local elected leaders, road experts, civil engineers, and most importantly: Michigan voters. No study has substantively disagreed with the number, two studies say the amount is actually closer to $4 billion a year, and time and time again, voters rank Michigan roads as the number one problem facing our state. Moreover, every expert who truly understands the state budget and the many funding priorities that must be met by state appropriations also agrees that Lansing does not have enough money to solve Michigan’s infrastructure mess. More revenue is needed because Lansing has put off a solution for too long.

As 2019 comes to a close, we can thank our state elected leaders for the gift of another pothole-riddled spring. But 2020 is a new year — in fact it’s an election year, when Michigan voters will elect a new state House of Representatives. We can ride our crumbling roads straight to the polls and elect state representatives who pledge, once and for all, to fix the roads.

Enough is enough. 2020 is the year Michigan voters should put legislative candidates for roads first.

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