You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Major Washtenaw County road construction projects leave no funds for maintenance programs

By Amy Biolchini

In order to leverage $10.7 million of federal grant money for construction projects on Washtenaw County's busiest roads, preventative maintenance program may go unfunded this year.

Revenues from the state excise tax on gasoline allocated to Washtenaw County are used to provide a required 20 percent match to federal projects. The revenues are generated by a $0.19 tax per gallon of gasoline, a $0.15 tax per gallon of diesel fuel, and from vehicle license and registration fees.

Between the money allocated for township roads and the funds dedicated to match federal dollars for major projects, no tax revenues are left for the preventative program that seals roads in order to prolong their lifespan.

“We used to do $1 million in overlay five to six years ago,” said Roy Townsend, managing director of the Washtenaw County Road Commission.

The preventative maintenance program was underfunded last year as well, Townsend said, noting the road commission was only able to put about $300,000 into the preventative maintenance program in 2012.

The longer the preventative maintenance program goes unfunded, the more the county’s roads will deteriorate, Townsend said.

After the first quarter of 2013, the road commission may be able to put some funding into its overlay and seal coat preventive maintenance program, Townsend said.

“Every day it doesn’t snow, money is potentially being saved and being put in to the roads for resurfacing,” Townsend said. “We’re trying to make our dollars as far as possible.”

The last time the Michigan tax revenue was raised was in 1997, Townsend said. The rate was adjusted in 2003 as a result of the census, Townsend said.

Talks at the state level of changing the Michigan gas tax to $0.33 wholesale tax on fuel sales would make a big difference locally, Townsend said.

The county received about $16.5 million this year from the gas tax revenues, and about $500,000 of it is dedicated in pre-set contribution amounts to each of the county’s 20 townships for local and gravel road projects.

The allocation is determined by the number of road miles and population size. Ypsilanti Township has the largest allocation.

The road commission is in talks with each township to determine which of the local and gravel roads will see work this year. Public meetings are being conducted on a set schedule, and the finalized list of projects will be announced in May.

The $10.7 million in federal funds mean 15 mill and overlay projects will be completed this year on major across Washtenaw County, as well as intersection and traffic signal improvements.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Bob Zuruncol

Tue, Feb 26, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

Our roads are a disgrace, and very dangerous. Young people can't even recall a time when we took care of our roads and other infrastructure. Politicians continue to fear the shouts and rants for lower taxes from the most boorish of their constituents. Meanwhile, we damage the undercarriage of our cars, and swerve to avoid pot holes, and pock-marked hot-patch riddled roads that have long since reached end of life. Why, oh why would any company want to move their operations and employees here?

It's hard to hide from facts

Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 7:49 a.m.

The problem is that the county road commission is run by appointed people and not elected people. There is no accountability. The county commissioners appoint the road commissioners then when you point the finger at the county board of commissioners about how their appointees are doing they say "we don't have any say over the roads, the roads are managed by the road commissioners." What a joke. If the road commission was run by people elected to office you could actually have a say so in the roads. People who are appointed have no compelling reason to get the most bang for the buck on behalf of the tax payer, their efforts are spent pacifying the people who work for them, namely the unions. Oh, then there's the acceptance and defense of sub-par work from the contractors who bid for the jobs. Anybody over there ever hear about performance guarantees?


Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 2:05 a.m.

"Every day it doesn't snow, money is potentially being saved and being put in to the roads for resurfacing," Townsend said. Maybe there are benefits to global warming. Oh, sorry to the politically correct folks out there....climate change.

Jay Thomas

Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 8:52 a.m.

The 19 cents a gallon is not automatically inflation adjusted folks... you need to raise it. Of course the same people who want the minimum wage raised for reasons of inflation find it unneeded here. I consider it all to be a use tax. Don't use the roads much, don't pay much.

Tom Todd

Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 4:08 a.m.

I Don't care what you do with my tax money JUST fill some dam POT HOLES!!!


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 1:34 a.m.

As much as I am not enthusiastic about redoing roads at the expense of maintenance, I sure hope they are including bike lanes as part of the 'upgrade.' If they aren't at least adding bike lanes... what a waste of money!


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 12:36 a.m.

Bring on more electronic road signs, lol Those must be the biggest waste of spending out there, those electric billboard signs. "wear your set belts", "don't drink and drive" Do we really need those fancy signs to tell the drivers what everybody already knows ? Then there are those distance signs that tell you the next freeway is 15 mins away yet you get there in under 10 mins, lol again. Mdot needs to stop wasting its funding and forget about increasing funding. Use the money they get more wisely. Gasoline cost too much as it is now. Electric signs are too expensive. We got along fine without them in the past.


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

Can't wait to hear about the hackers who tell us zombies are dead ahead.

Dagrmc McEwen

Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 12:02 a.m.

Ann Arbor Saline Road from Eisenhower over the I94 bridge is the worst street in the city and Washtenaw county. How in the world can anyone delay this repair until 2014. Mayor Hentfge (sp) please retire tomorrow so someone with half a brain can take over A2 .


Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 3:35 a.m.

If you want to be part of the solution then, by all means, go ahead and repair the gateway to Saline. Or would you rather wait and pawn off the responsibility of maintaining the gateway to your city (Saline) until someone else paid for it? That stretch of A2 saline between Eisenhower and to just over the bridge is (should be) embarrassing to everyone in Pittsfield/Saline. It's a gateway to the city for heck sakes. Good way to say welcome to visitors.


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 10:12 p.m.

Some people like to be part of the problem and not part of the solution. "Let Pittsfield and Saline repair that section", anyone to thinks this is definitely part of the problem. Hey Ann Arbor, good job of the Stadium bridge. Make your citizens and everyone else who uses it suffer while you wait for someone else to pay for it. And that's exactly what happened. Take responsibility for your own roads and stop trying to pawn off the job on someone else. That stretch of A2 saline between Eisenhower and to just over the bridge is (should be) embarrasing to everyone in Ann Arbor. It's a gateway to the city for heck sakes. Good way to say welcome to vistors. Oh and real smart saying that out of towners use it most. Naw there's nobody in Ann Arbor that shops at Kohls or Meijer or Target.


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

Actually, let Pittsfield Township or Saline repair that section. Their commuters are the ones that use it the most.

Basic Bob

Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

Like he cares. I bet he never goes this way since he lives on the east side.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 9:14 p.m.

O joy! O bliss! I can't wait to swish around an orange barrel and do the polka. Going to be a fun summer.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 5:29 p.m.

The "matching federal fund grab" is apparently a deadly, wasting disease for our local politicians. . . Less expensive (and wiser) preventative maintenance is halted for special projects. . . Penny wise + pound foolish = more folly, for sure.

Basic Bob

Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 10:56 a.m.

This is how the matching federal funding works. We pay taxes to the state and federal governments. They share in the cost of road projects, since the roads are not limited to just use by local residents. If we don't come up with our matching state funds, the federal money goes to other states. Over a long period of time, our roads become the worst maintained in the country because we declined to accept OUR federal road money WE sent to Washington.

zip the cat

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 4:49 p.m.

They always never have the funds for road repair every year,BUT They always find the funds to buy all the foreman and big shooters new chevy pick-ups every year. Last count I heard of they had in excess of 25 pickups 75% of which were newer 2-3 yrs old. And they all get to drive them home every night and guess who pays for the gas. The whole county road commission is a farce


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

"Every day it doesn't snow, money is potentially being saved and being put in to the roads for resurfacing," Townsend said. "We're trying to make our dollars as far as possible." Well, at least that explains the incredibly poor road maintenance and snow removal in winter. A snow removal crew showing up for work at 7 a.m. when it's been snowing for several it makes sense. "Too cold for salt, too warm for salt, too late for salt...." Make those dollars go as far as possible! Let's just hope the snow melts eventually and save those dollars!


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

Please redo Dexter Townhall between North Territorial and Cedar. Leads to Pinckney Recreation. Been patching for years.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

There are many many roads like this that are patched on top of patches. This is just unconscionable. They know that those patches don't last and half the time they just toss the asphalt out of a moving truck and hope it hits the pothole. Most of the time it misses. Very poor maintenance.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

"Every day it doesn't snow, money is potentially being saved and being put in to the roads for resurfacing," Townsend said. "We're trying to make our dollars as far as possible." Then there should be a nice pot of money left over from last year because it was a very mild winter. Then again, I just saw a WCRC truck going back and forth out front with it's bed up. I assume they are supposed to be trowing some patch in holes. But why does it need to be done on a Saturday? Is the union looking for overtime?


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 3:38 p.m.

"Then there should be a nice pot of money left over from last year because it was a very mild winter." I'm sure that's been squandered just like all the rest of the $$.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Mr Townsend, if your home was in need of repair and was about to crumble on top of you, which would you choose? 1. Build on an additional room 2 Repair your home


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

You didn't include: 3. Extend the runway.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

Once again, city officials show that they do not know how to manage all of the tax revenues collected. The tax payers suffer again. But, I am sure they are collecting their wages, gold plated benefits and stuffing their pension pools.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

Goober, this has nothing to do with the city.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 4:22 p.m.

Goober I assume you meant county officials. Although it is true for city officials.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

Exactly. And Slick Rick want to INCREASE the fees on licenses and INCREASE the taxes on gasoline so he can have more $$ to squander on road "maintenance."

Bela Sipos

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

Many years ago there was discussion and I believe preliminary planning to widen Michigan Ave (US12) from 23 past Plat. That intersection continues to be one of the most jammed up intersections in the County during rush hours. Does anyone know why this isn't being discussed any longer?

Ann English

Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 12:03 a.m.

Coming from you, I get the impression that the five-day-a-week traffic jams there are having a bad effect on real estate sales in the area. Saline residents coming to Ypsilanti to work should speak up. I've seen the vacant business buildings along South State Road on the way to Saline and wonder if those closures sent Saline residents to work in Ypsilanti.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

Seems like a rush to grab matching funds at the cost of preventative maintenance. How many of the projects would have to be nixed to free up $1 million?

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 12:12 p.m.

Keeping the roads safe during winter storms to reduce the number of injuries and accidents and $1 million a year of preventative maintenance ought to come first before other projects are funded. Why spend money adding a roundabout or reconfiguring a road from a Y to a T intersection when you don't address the basics? According to the other article those are some of the "major projects" being funded this year instead with the money. The priorities seem a bit upside down.


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 1:29 a.m.

I wholeheartedly agree with this. I have lived here 10 years and am continually shocked at how awful the roads are for driving. I really wish we were allowed to designate specific portions of our tax dollars to road maintenance. I completely agree that road upgrades should be much further down the priority list...


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

Why oh why are they going to build a roundabout at State and Ellsworth? The intersection is just fine as it is. Mega sized semis travel through there regularly, and they won't be able to negotiate a small roundabout at that intersection. TOTALLY unnecessary project. Snow removal and preventative maintenance should be first.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

I fail to see why changing Eiseman Rd from a Y to A T is going to benifit anyone other than the property owners on that corner.

eddy adkins

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 11:32 a.m.

That's not good.. i saw live news about this project on