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Posted on Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Washtenaw road commission: Snyder's funding proposal could fix the 'worst roads in the county'

By Amy Biolchini


Road and bridge projects in Washtenaw County that could be completed in two years should Gov. Rick Snyder's $1.6 billion increase to local road projects in Michigan pass the legislature. Bridges are marked with orange dots, culverts are marked with blue dots and roads are indicated in green.

Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Road Commission

Encouraged by Gov. Rick Snyder's commitment to find a way to increase road funding, the Washtenaw County Road Commission has drafted a list of road and bridge projects it could complete if given more money under the governor's plan.

Should the Michigan legislature increase road funding by $1.6 billion, Washtenaw County would be able to reconstruct 67 miles of 20 roads, replace five bridges, fix 30 culverts and seal 100 miles of roads in a two-year span.

Roy Townsend, managing director of the Road Commission, assembled the list of potential projects at the request of the County Road Association of Michigan.


Roy Townsend file photo

The organization is compiling plans from road commissions across the state to present to lawmakers.

Monica Ware, communications director for the County Road Association of Michigan, said the plans would be shared with legislators individually.

“Our goal is to be able to show legislators how this funding could be used in their communities,” Ware said.

Less than half of Michigan’s Road Commissions have submitted plans with the projects they can complete with additional state funding, Ware said.

The issue of finding ways to fund local road projects has also garnered the attention of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners recently, as several members have publicly expressed interest in a countywide road tax.

A recent public opinion survey released by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments found that 51 percent of respondents its seven-county area incorrectly think that most road funding comes from local property taxes.

About 63 percent of the respondents to the survey said spending on the road system in Southeast Michigan was not enough, and that roads are the biggest infrastructure concern for the area.

Road repairs in Washtenaw County are funded by state and federal dollars. State funding comes from the gas tax and from vehicle registration fees.

The Washtenaw County Road Commission receives about $16.5 million per year in state funding.

Should the legislature choose to implement a $1.6 billion increase that’s been floated this year, Washtenaw County would see its annual state funding double, Townsend said.

The 20 roads on Townsend’s list need to have their pavement torn-up, pulverized and re-paved, as they have the lowest rating on the scale used to evaluate road conditions.

“These are the worst roads in the county,” Townsend said.

Chairman of the Road Commission Doug Fuller said he thought it looked increasingly unlikely that state would pass an increase in road funding.

Townsend's list of projects totals $32.5 million in work over two years.

“That’s wishful thinking on the part of our director,” said Road Commissioner Fred Veigel.

Though the Road Commission has all 20 of the roads listed on projects it would like to be able to complete, its budget has prevented the development of a plan to do so, Townsend said.

Townsend’s list includes these 20 roads that he says need to be completely re-done:

  • 2 miles of Huron River Drive and Newport in Ann Arbor Township
  • 6 miles of Willis Road in Augusta Township
  • 2 miles of Austin Road in Bridgewater Township
  • 3 miles of Dexter Townhall Road in Dexter Township
  • 3.5 miles of Fletcher and Scio Church roads in Freedom Township
  • 5 miles of Scio Church Road in Lima Township
  • 2 miles of Textile Road in Lodi Township
  • 5 miles of Waterloo Road in Lyndon Township
  • 3 miles of Sharon Valley Road in Manchester Township
  • 2.5 miles of North Territorial Road in Northfield Township
  • 4.5 miles of Bemis, Platt and Oak Valley Drive in Pittsfield Township
  • 5 miles of North Territorial and Gotfredson roads in Salem Township
  • 3 miles of Austin and Macon roads in Saline Township
  • 4 miles of Scio Church, Parker and Zeeb roads in Scio Township
  • 3 miles of Pleasant Lake Road in Sharon Township
  • 2 miles of Superior and Prospect roads in Superior Township
  • 2.5 miles of Old U.S. 12 and Scio Church Road in Sylvan Township
  • 2 miles of North Territorial Road in Webster Township
  • 3 miles of Willis and Bemis roads in York Township
  • 4 miles of Huron River Drive, Stoney Creek Drive and Prospect in Ypsilanti Township

The following bridges could be replaced with double the funding from the state, Townsend said:

  • McGregor over Portage Canal in Dexter Township
  • Liberty over Mill Creek in Lima Township
  • Austin over Bauer Drain in Saline Township
  • Sharon Valley over River Raisin in Sharon Township
  • Removal of the Tyler/Wiard overpass in Ypsilanti Township

Ware said that should an increase in road funding pass the state Legislature, the final distribution to local counties may be different from what they’re anticipating.

Should the distribution formulas for road funding remain the same, Ware said Washtenaw County would likely be able to complete the list of projects that it drafted.

However, should the Legislature change the funding formulas to allocate more money to work by the Michigan Department of Transportation on state-owned roadways, then less money would be available for local road projects.

A number of different plans are being discussed at the moment, but Ware said the County Road Association of Michigan would support only those that include constitutional protections for the funding.

“(The County Road Association of Michigan) traditionally advocates for fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees because those two revenue streams are constitutionally protected. Whatever the option the legislature does select, it’s important that they be protected (constitutionally),” Ware said.

Ware said the County Road Association of Michigan is asking people to contact their legislators directly on the issue of road funding. A sample letter to send to legislators in support of road funding is available online.

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



Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 11 p.m.

A country-wide gas tax? Michigan already has the 6th highest gas tax (per gallon) in the country. I'd support a temporary increase but then again, what tax ever gets passed that is temporary? Keep in mind when the new fuel economy standards hit in 2025 that nearly doubles today's standards guess who will be squawking about needing more tax money for roads? Given all of that, I do not support another tax increase.


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 4:32 a.m.

No on more taxes, yes on a thorough independent audit on past spending. I want to know why I haven't gotten my money's worth from current the current funding. Can't the MDOT handle the job without a "commission"?


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 1:38 a.m.

A recent public opinion survey released by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments found that 51 percent of respondents its seven-county area incorrectly think that most road funding comes from local property taxes. About 63 percent of the respondents to the survey said spending on the road system in Southeast Michigan was not enough, and that roads are the biggest infrastructure concern for the area. ******** Exactly how many people responded to the survey? Percentages mean nothing without knowing the base. 63% of what? 10 people? 200 people? No one would argue that roads need work, but paying for it is another story. Why not ask people in Washtenaw County what they think of new road tax rather than asking them an obvious question, whether they think the roads are in bad shape. Of course the roads are crumbling. The question is what happened to all the road money allocated in past years? Squandered? Diverted? NO NEW TAXES!


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 1:32 a.m.

What happened to all of the funds allocated to road maintenance over the last decade? NO NEW TAXES! Why are the roads in Livingston county in so much better shape than Washtenaw County? Perhaps it has something to do with the Wash Cty Road Commission.....

Phil Lozen

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

How in the WORLD is the Ann Arbor Saline/Main St. bridge over I-94 not on this list. That think looks like it could collapse any day.

Amy Biolchini

Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 3:58 p.m.

That project is already scheduled for 2014, which is why it's not on this list.


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

Infrastructure fixes like overdue road repairs, bridge repairs, sewer repairs, power grid fixes, help rebuilding Hurricane Sandy, etc. not only improve REQUIRED and necessary systems, they are also the means to providing employment to thousands of people, so much of the money spent will flow through the economy via the purchase of products and services, the payment of taxes, reduction of unemployment and safety net payments, etc. This is something that the President has been proposing for years, but Republicans keep obstructing him ... and the infrastructure keeps decaying and getting more expensive to repair, the employment that could be provided is not attained, etc. WHY IS THIS NOT BEING DONE ? Look at the great works done following the Great Depression as our Country was rebuilt ... why can we not repair what is failing now and put people to work? Even Republican Governors are now asking for this to be done.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 4:41 p.m.

AC, You do realize that the majority of the Stimulus was spent on tax cuts for the poor and middle class ($290.7B) and tax entitlements like unemployment benefits ($246.6B) of the $788B spent, don't you? The balance was spent on financial aid to local school districts, expanding the Child Tax Credit, and underwriting the computerization of health records, the Recovery Act was also targeted at infrastructure development and enhancement. For instance, the Act provided for the weatherizing of 75 percent of federal buildings and more than one million private homes. Construction and repair of roads and bridges as well as scientific research and the expansion of broadband and wireless service were funded. I guess you must have missed those green "Courtesy of the Economic Stimulus"signs near most of the road construction projects ? Maybe you should invest in new trifocals ?

Basic Bob

Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 4:02 p.m.

Oh, yes, the "Great Works" following the depression. First off, many of those buildings were built so shabbily by unskilled and untrained workers, that nothing left is standing of these. The unions prevented the government from training workers because they might take their jobs. And the government paid these people a fraction of minimum wage (and in fact less than unemployment benefits) in today's dollars. A woman could only work if the man of the house was not working. How about the CCC, the most popular program of all? One dollar a day for hard labor in rustic accommodations, 20% retained by the young workers and 80% sent back to their families. Not to say any of these were bad or unnecessary. But would _anyone_ accept that today?


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

Yes, but AC, that stimulus and TARP that Republicans and Democrats voted for has largely been repaid unlike Bush's unfunded wars and prescription drug plans which just added to the national debt. And those wars were based on a search for WMD which that Administration knew didn't exist, which would have lost their approval to start the war if Congress had known in advance.


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 1:14 p.m.

Jay, do you refer to this bridge: For his part, Boehner says he's happy Obama has taken such interest in the bridge. Speaker Boehner has long supported repairing the Brent Spence Bridge and is pleased the president is bringing additional attention to the need for it to be improved and eventually replaced, Boehner spokeswoman Brittany Bramell said in a statement. ?

Jay Thomas

Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 2:34 a.m.

Sparty, what you say isn't really true. Obama went to Boehner's district and proposed rebuilding a bridge that didn't need to be rebuilt for another twenty years JUST TO CREATE SOME MAKE WORK JOBS. Rebuilding anything before its time is wasteful and also qualifies as being "unsustainable" because ofl the environmental cost.


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 10:24 p.m.

You see we had a thing called the stimulus Sparty, and there were all those shovel ready jobs...

Up in Northfield

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

I'm all for a percentage gas tax (user fee). No increase in registration fees, no straight sales tax. But I don't understand how projects are decided. N. Territorial from Spencer to Gottfredsen is in TERRIBLE condition (we just had about $650 in damage due to potholes -- I now just drive straight down the center of the road, hoping there will be no oncoming traffic). I haven't seen anything like it elsewhere. Yet they are adding a lane and light at N. Territorial and Whitmore Lake Road, where (i) there is already a new light (just within the last couple years), and (ii) they just resurfaced.

Jay Thomas

Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 2:40 a.m.

Percentages don't work well because the money the .gov receives is not consistent. Only a cents per gallon system makes any sense.

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

Another regressive tax on the working class. Why not have the trucks that damage the roads pay for the repairs?

Basic Bob

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

the 80,000 lb trucks are allowed heavier weights per axle than the 160,000 lb michigan trucks. so the 18-wheel trucks actually cause the most damage. think tankers full of gasoline and milk. interstate commerce does not allow michigan to regulate these lower than federal standard.

michael Limmer

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

Why not limit the truck weight to 80,000 pounds as in other states? Despite assurances to the contrary, our roads are not built to handle 160,000 pound trucks. Until that happens, I am against the tax increase. Having performance bonds and requiring that roads last 15 years wouldn't hurt either.

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

In case anyone is curious, I asked how much AATA fares could increase if the state raises the 19-cent gas tax and 15-cent diesel tax to 33 cents. I was told: "We would need to explore all options in accommodating that, so a fare increase shouldn't necessarily be expected."


Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 5:28 p.m.

Late follow-up to this piece, but there's a piece of legislation (House Bill 4539) that would exempt gas and diesel fuel from the sales tax. The impact is a cut in revenue of $1 billion (15% of sales tax revenue). I don't know enough about how the taxes are distributed via this gas tax, but one impact would be $750 million less for the school aid fund. Link:

Retiree Newcomer

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

View fixing the highway infrastructure as an economic stimulus/job creator, and as an economic development tool/boost for tourism. Since moving here almost a year ago, I have grown to realize that Michigan generally has the worst roads I have ever experienced. As maintenance/improvements are deferred for lack of funding, the price tag for fixing them rises exponentially. Another plus for Michigan residents -- saving on car maintenance - tire replacement, front end alighments, etc. The poor condition of Michigan roads must be costing car owners a lot of extra money. My statements regarding the poor condition of roads in general also certainly applies to roads within the City of Ann Arbor.

Usual Suspect

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

Obviously these are roads that the middle class doesn't use, because I've been told by the haters Snyder has declared war on the middle class. The middle class must use other roads, and I'm assuming Snyder will be making those roads worse, right?

Little Patience

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

Please, please, PLEASE fix Willis Road! The weekly patching jobs are not helping.

average joe

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

Evidently those (currently)four people that voted down haven't ever been on Willis between stony crk & rawsonville.


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

Tolls, tolls and more tolls! Has anyone in Lansing every drivin out of state?

Jay Thomas

Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 2:44 a.m.

Why make people STOP their car when they can just pay at the pump?

Jay Thomas

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

A fuel tax is a user fee. Don't use the roads much, don't pay much. It should be in cents per gallon (and not some percentage) and go up when the post office raises its rates for first class mail to keep it simple.


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

Could I buy a "forever" gas tax stamp then?


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

What happened to the south entrance to the city - Ann Arbor-Saline Rd where it crosses I-94 ??? That intersection is one of the most traveled in the area, hasn't been resurfaced in more than 20 years, and is undoubtedly one of the worst sections of road in Washtenaw. If anything deserves to be done, that does, particularly with hundreds of thousands of visitors coming this fall for festivals and football games. Please add that to the list !!


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 7:35 p.m.

And how about fixing the State Street entrance into Ann Arbor and getting rid of that awful median and fixing the motocross track that State Street is between I94 and Eisenhower ?

Amy Biolchini

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

That overpass was originally scheduled to be done this year, as it requires a partnership of the Washtenaw County Road Commission, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the City of Ann Arbor. MDOT was not able to provide its share of the funding this year -- and so the project is slated for 2014.


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

And continued to the intersection of Eisenhower/A2 Saline Rd. It's a little like a motocross track there.


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

Of the two proposals on the table at the moment, raising gas taxes or raising the sales tax, raising the gas tax seems to make the most sense. (of course we have to close our minds to the fact that the GOP is going to RAISE TAXES, AGAIN, while they complain about high taxes everywhere else). Fuel taxes are very close to a user fee, the more you drive the more you help pay for the roads. Using sales tax money makes no sense to me. Why should people that don't drive pay for the road repair? Why use a regressive tax system to fund roads?

Basic Bob

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 5:22 p.m.

" Why should people that don't drive pay for the road repair?" Because they eat food, buy clothing, ride the bus, bum rides, and expect prompt emergency service from the police and fire departments. All of these are directly dependent on roads and therefore road funding. Unless of course they are subsistence farming or living in a cave, in which case they pay no sales tax.

John Agno

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

He who fixes Michigan roads will be held is high esteem.


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

If the roads had been funded properly for the last several decades when others were in control of the state, we wouldn't have this huge problem looking us in the face currently.


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

@ tdw - what clownfish posted is FACT. Sorry, fact is....the GOP has controlled this state and diverted the money elsewhere because we, the people that actually live in this state , are not their priority.


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 3:47 p.m.

clownfish....gotta love it.If anything good is done it because of the Democrats anything bad it's Republicans fault


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

Keep voting down facts, I love it!


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

Just to fill out the list: From 2003-2013 the GOP has also controlled the legal system, with the election of their candidate to the AG position. I think, but could be wrong, that the "non-partisan" Supreme Court has also been controlled by GOP picked candidates. From 1995-2013 the GOP has had control of the Secretary of state office. Got a problem with the MI state government? Take it up with the the political party that has been in control for the last several decades.


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

The Michigan Senate has been controlled by the Republicans since 1983. Congress has been controlled by the GOP from 1999-2006 and from 2010-1013 the GOP has had the governorship 14 of the last 22 years. Who are the others that were in control for the last decades?


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 11:26 a.m.

If the road repairs had been funded 2 years ago, instead of the $1.8 billion business tax cut, our roads would be as smooth as a politician's promises...............


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

I don't recall much being done 3 or 4 years ago

average joe

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 11:21 a.m.

If Mr Townsend would remove the phrases "projects it could complete" and "list of potential projects", and replace them with 'projects the county WILL complete" , I bet the people would be more inclined to write their representative in Lansing.

Amy Biolchini

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

The Road Commission would only be able to complete the projects listed on a two-year time frame if the funding they receive from the state would be doubled -- which would happen under the current distribution pattern set by the state should a $1.6 billion increase in funding to roads pass the legislature.


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 11:12 a.m.

Now if only Oz would do the same..sadly not a big priority ...we have more important things like paying professional taggers big $$$ to do the new Zilwaukee south bridge....

dading dont delete me bro

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 10:45 a.m.

could?!? let's hope they DO fixe the worst roads


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 11:39 a.m.

No money no fixing.