Michigan’s local road conditions improved slightly, but projections still bleak
- 6,047 miles of county roads were improved in 2022, up from 5,698 miles improved in 2021
- County road agencies estimate that’s less than half of what was needed to keep up with existing infrastructure needs
- “We simply cannot catch up” without more money for fixing local roads, County Road Association of Michigan CEO Denise Donahue said
Michigan’s local roads have improved slightly in the last year, but potholes will persist without additional funding for fixes, a survey of county road agencies found.
The survey, conducted by the County Road Association of Michigan, found 6,047 miles of county roads were improved in 2022, meaning they were patched up, repaved or otherwise maintained. That’s up from 5,698 miles improved in 2021.
An average of 46 percent of local roads in Michigan were in good or fair condition in 2022, up from 36 percent in 2019, the survey found. Primary roads that are federal-aid eligible had an average rating of 52 percent in good or fair condition, up from 45 percent in 2019.
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The bad news? That’s nowhere near enough to shore up existing infrastructure, County Road Association of Michigan CEO Denise Donohue said in a statement.
County officials want to see 90 percent of the state’s primary county roadways and 60 percent of local roads in good or fair condition by 2031. To get there, the association estimated 13,500 road miles should have been repaired in 2022.
“Last year, county road agencies repaired less than half of the road miles that we need to be fixing in order to keep up with existing infrastructure,” Donohue said. “We simply cannot catch up with the funds presently available…more Michigan transportation funds in this budget cycle are the answer.”
The survey is the latest development in an ongoing saga Michigan drivers are all too familiar with: Michigan roads are crumbling, and industry experts say the funds raised by state fuel taxes aren’t enough to fix the issue.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — whose suggestion to hike the state’s 27.2-cents-per-gallon fuel tax by 45 cents during her first term was quickly rebuffed by the legislature — has said she isn’t planning to pursue another fuel tax hike, but is interested in exploring other options, like tolling or a mileage-based tax system.
State Rep. Nate Shannon, D Sterling Heights who is chair of the Michigan House’s Transportation, Mobility and Infrastructure Committee, recently told Bridge Michigan he wants to revisit Act 51, the state’s funding mechanism for road repairs, to see if there’s a politically feasible way to create a “more fair system” that better addresses the needs of high-traffic areas like Southeast Michigan.
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