Major Washtenaw County road construction projects leave no funds for maintenance programs
- Related: Construction preview: 15 of Washtenaw County's busiest roads that will see orange barrels this year
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.