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Posted on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 6:10 p.m.

New report: Cost to fix Michigan's roads going up as Legislature delays action on new funding

By Ryan J. Stanton

Michigan's roads have fallen into worse shape over the past six months and delays in finding new funding for maintenance is proving costly, according to a new bipartisan report.

State Reps. Rick Olson, R-York Township, and Roy Schmidt, D-Grand Rapids, on Thursday released an updated version of their September report titled "Michigan’s Roads Crisis: What Will It Cost to Maintain Our Roads and Bridges?"

The original study found the state needed an additional $1.4 billion a year in new transportation funding to properly maintain the state's roads and bridges.


Rick Olson

But now more than $1.5 billion in additional annual funding is needed as delays in finding new funding has led to further deterioration of Michigan's transportation infrastructure.

Over a 12-year span, it now will cost the state an additional $1.8 billion, according to the report.

"In addition, we will drive on roads in poorer condition during the 12 years projected than if legislative action had occurred in 2011," the report states.

Olson and Schmidt were appointed to head up a workgroup on transportation funding of the House Transportation Committee last year. Their original report was updated to reflect the 2012 construction year, which they said will not benefit from additional funding now, and to take advantage of additional road condition data.

The projection of a $1.4 billion shortfall has been used as the basis for Gov. Rick Snyder's call for additional revenue for transportation in Michigan, as well as the package of bills introduced in the Legislature in January to meet those needs.

"When it comes to funding our road and bridge maintenance, trying to attain and maintain the quality goals for our roads set of 95% and 85% to be good or fair condition, time is not on our side," the report concluded. "The time to address this problem is now."

Olson on Thursday also announced he will hold another "best practices" transportation conference this summer to give an update on bills related to transportation funding in the state Legislature. The seminar will take place Aug. 16 and will be led by Olson and Schmidt.

Last year, attendees of the day-long conference heard from representatives of the House Transportation Committee and a wide range of transportation authorities from across the state, including several engineers. Olson said the panel lineup will be similar this year.

The event is open to all city and county road commission leaders in the state.

"This is part of our continued effort to make sure that we are getting the best value for the money we spend on maintaining our roads and bridges," Olson said. "With the poor condition of roads, we need to get the biggest bang for the buck we can.”

The conference will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no cost to attend.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

So, you were quick to tax my pension and give your big business buddies a 1.7 billion gift. But actually doing something like funding our infracture needs, not so much. Why does the report dance around the root cause of our pathetic roads? Heavy & overweight trucks. I know, it's just (big) business.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

Well, the House and Senate have been busy with far more important duties than fixing our roads. They had to take time to ban unions at the UM, keep gay partners of state employees from getting insurance, tax seniors and the poor and to work on union busting regulation. That stuff is more important than roads, and clearly the populace would rather ban student unions than have their roads fixed. Banning unions gives an immediate rush, leaving the roads to decay gives a chance to blame previous administrations, which is far more productive than actually governing.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

"Olson on Thursday also announced he will hold another "best practices" transportation conference this summer to give an update on bills related to transportation funding in the state." What? Is the state legislature already on summer break or something? Sorry Big Three, but heck if I am going to buy a new car right now just so it will get beat up driving on the Washtenaw County roads.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 11:40 a.m.

The disrepair of Michigan's roads is not the result of the last 6 months of delayed funding. It is the result of poor maintenance over the last decade. What happened to the road maintenance funds for the last 10 years? There is no reason to be in this situation, other than lawmakers deferring maintenance and consistently hiring poor contractors. I have lived in many other states in the US, some in the snow belt, and none have roads that are worse than Michigan. Somehow other states in snow belt regions get it right. The potholes around Ann Arbor are incredible. There is no excuse given the mild winter, not to be fixing those potholes now, and not just throwing asphalt in a hole from the top of a truck, missing the hole, or leaving a huge pile of asphalt in the hole which is then not pushed down into the hole. The loose asphalt pile is washed away or doesn't fill the hole. VERY poor road maintenance in Ann Arbor. I've watched these guys on the asphalt trucks and any of us on this forum could do a better job. Has anyone driven on Carpenter Road between Washtenaw and Packard lately? That stretch has been in very poor disrepair for years, and is only one small example. There is simply no excuse.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:13 p.m.

"Has anyone driven on Carpenter Road between Washtenaw and Packard lately?" Isn't that Detroit? Why would anyone go there?


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 11:38 a.m.

Its easy to throw money you don't have at any problem. Brilliant economics like that was partly to blame for the mess we are in! This problem SHOULD have been addressed the last "administration" And it should be addressed by this administration.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 7:45 a.m.

Hold on! Don't take any more of MY money to pay bills that should have already been paid! Isn't this what the gas taxes are supposed to pay for? Besides if roads were ACTUALLY FIXED instead of putting a scoop of hot asphalt in the holes and letting cars mash it flat, we wouldn't have so many bad roads to begin with. Maybe if so many of our government officials didn't have so deep of pockets, the money they don't earn would be getting to the roads! Just because most of them make six figures or more doesn't mean the average citizen does.

Ed Kimball

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:27 p.m.

Revenues from gas taxes have declined even as road usage has gone up, because of the increases in fuel efficiency. The current low gas taxes are no longer enough to support the maintenance needed.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 4:27 a.m.

Governor Snyder supports SB909 and HB5309 which will create a southeast Michigan regional transit authority involving Washtenaw County, McComb County, Oakland County and Wayne County. To fund the authority, the state legislature is willing to authorize an additional $1.20 fee applied to car licenses within these counties. An estimated $75 million can be raised by this fee. If one assumes that the number of vehicle licenses within these four counties is one fifth of all the licensed vehicles in Michigan than expanding the licensing fee increase to all Michigan vehicles would generate $355 million annually. Therefore, in five years the new increased licensing fee will produce $1.775 billion or almost what is needed to fix our roads and bridges. So I suggest that the southeast Michigan transportation authority creation be delayed so that new licensing fees can support road repair rather than inter-county corridor transportation improvements. After all the roads and bridges are repaired over a five year period, then a southeast Michigan transportation authority can be reconsidered and financing by increased auto licensing fees can be considered for the four involved counties.

Ed Kimball

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

Just what we need -- more delays in solving our problems.

David Briegel

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:08 a.m.

Don't you have a lot of sympathy for these TeaPublicon's who are all afraid to violate the Grover Norquist and his grumpy band of grouches Commandment? And Rick, maybe you can cut even more from the educators that you loathe.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

The roads were great when Granholm left office right?


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:50 a.m.

Or better yet, maybe tax the earnings of Solyndra, Barry's little foray into renewable energy. Oh, that's right, all that money's out of the taxpayer's pocket.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 11:54 p.m.

Hi Rick: Some simple questions for you. 1) You voted enthusiastically to give 'no strings attached' $1.7+ billion to businesses to supposedly 'create' jobs -- but with NO mechanism to track if that ever occurred. So it was essentially a giveaway and businesses bear no responsibility for the roads they use? Just us citizens? Now you need almost that same amount to fix the roads? Guess whose trucks, etc. cause the most damage to our roads? Not regular folks like us driving little cars -- but you've said we should pay for the damage now, right? 2) You and your Republican colleagues control the legislature -- so why can't you pass anything to fix the roads? Just go ahead and ram through what you want -- you've already done that dozens of times. 3) One last question: what's the deal with the second bridge to Canada (that's transportation) and how did you vote on a the second bridge proposal(s) and did you accept campaign money from the owners of the Ambassador Bridge? Please answer these simple questions.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

Amazing how the roads just magically fell apart the DAY Snyder took office! use your heads folks! This was a problem BEFORE Snyder it will be a problem DURING Snyder and it will be a problem AFTER Snyder!