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roads

Road in need of repair.
Peter Ito / Flickr

Michigan decided last week to collect sales tax from online businesses -- which could increase the state's tax revenue by almost $250 million in the next three years.

But the question now is what to do with that extra money.

A crumbling road with a large pothole in the asphalt
Chris UK / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

A bill in the state house would block insurance companies from increasing car insurance premiums on drivers who have made claims for damage caused by Michigan’s failing roads.

Lawmakers behind the bill say the state’s roads have been underfunded and poorly maintained and residents shouldn’t be punished for driving on them.

State Rep. John Chirkun, D-Roseville, is the bill sponsor. He said his constituents have had to get hundreds of dollars in car repairs because of potholes.

Dropping pennies into potholes

Mar 21, 2018
Roads
Wikimedia Commons

Governor Rick Snyder was all relentlessly positive smiles yesterday when he signed a bill adding $175 million dollars to this year’s state’s road repair budget.

“There are roads that actually will get fixed because of this investment. You are going to see a lot of barrels in every corner of Michigan because of this,” the governor added.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Lansing needs to step up and provide adequate roads funding or else tell local governments they’re on their own, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said Monday.

Hackel blasted the Michigan Legislature’s 2015 “fix” that raised fuel taxes and driver registration fees, but generates far too little revenue for the state’s actual infrastructure needs. He made those remarks as Macomb unveiled a new online resource about county road conditions, and what it will cost to fix them.

Potholes on a road in Ann Arbor.
Daniel Hensel / Michigan Radio

This week, Governor Snyder is expected to sign a bill sending an extra $175 million in one-time funds to our state and local roads. That money supplements $2.3 billion in ongoing funds this year. 

Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, joined Stateside again to answer one more MI Curious question about Michigan's roads. 

Semi truck
Greg Gjerdingen / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

As part of Michigan Radio’s ongoing MI Curious project, Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, has been answering your questions about our roads.

Today’s question comes from John Echelbarger from Belleville:

Why has Michigan not lowered the weight restrictions on semis compared to Ohio or Indiana? In Michigan, trucks can carry double the weight.

Julie Falk / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation recently joined Stateside to answer your questions about our roads.

It turns out, you had a lot of questions.

Michigan's infrastructure is falling apart

Mar 8, 2018
Repair trucks on a Michigan road.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

I’ve always been leery of people obsessed with a single issue, who see the world entirely through some narrow prism. Marxists tend to be like that, if there are any left.

Single-issue people tend to be terribly boring. But I find that I too am becoming more and more obsessed with a single issue, and I think you should be too. I’m not talking about the coming workers’ revolution, however, but something else: Michigan’s infrastructure. 

potholes in Vandercook Lake
Charlotte Finnegan, an MI Curious question asker

As Michiganders drove to work or school today, many were dodging potholes or rumbling along on cracking or crumbling pavement.

It’s the time of year when the condition of Michigan’s roads makes its way into conversation after conversation. Many wonder what it’s going to take to get Michigan’s roads and highways in better shape.

Daniel Hensel / Michigan Radio

Tire shops around the state are busy these days. Why? Blowouts due to potholes.

But why are there so many potholes when we’ve been paying more in fees and fuel taxes?

A pothole in downtown Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller almost always calls it as she sees it. She’s deeply conservative, but mostly doesn’t let ideology get in the way of common sense.

So I wasn’t surprised yesterday by how she summed up the $175 million road funding bill just passed by both houses of the state Legislature.

The bill, she said, is “just a drop in the pothole.” 

Courtesy of Victor Li

Michigan isn’t alone in the struggle to repair crumbling roads and bridges.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America's infrastructure a grade of "D" based on years of underfunding and delayed maintenance.

Victor Li may have the key to solving this nationwide struggle.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor says Michigan’s Capitol City is in a “good place.”

Schor delivered his first State of the City address Wednesday. He took office January 1. 

Schor talked about new efforts to improve Lansing public schools, better connect with city neighborhoods, and promote arts and culture.  

But the mayor says infrastructure, especially crumbling city streets, is a problem.

“We’re going to spend what we have,” says Schor, “but what we have is not enough to fix all the roads.”

Kevin Lau / FLICKR - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Something Michiganders talk about all the time? Roads. But do you know who’s in charge of our roads, or who owns them? Listener Phil Arbour was thinking along those lines.

He sent this question to our MI Curious team:

“How is road ownership broken down in Michigan?"

Arbour said he wanted to know how the roads are divvied up by federal, state, county, township, and village.

Stateside brought in Aarne Frobom with the Michigan Department of Transportation to explain.

Orange construction barrels
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 


Gov. Rick Snyder signed a $1.2 billion road funding package in 2015 that called for increased vehicle registration fees and gas taxes, many of which went into effect this year.

In an interview with Stateside this week, Michigan Department of Transportation director Kirk Steudle said the state was “still trying to manage the deterioration,” but the overall quality of roads was yet to rise, despite the fresh tax revenue. But he noted the general fund component of the 2015 funding package has yet to kick in.

Dvortygirl / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan legislature boosted transportation funding in 2015 - but not enough to keep the condition of state roads and bridges from getting worse, according to a recent report from TRIP, a national transportation research group.  

The report says the additional money will not be enough to fund some $3.3 billion in needed transportation improvement projects.

Governor Rick Snyder will deliver his seventh State of the State address tonight. My guess is that not many people will watch or listen; with this speech, they hardly ever do.

Abraham Lincoln famously said at Gettysburg that “the world will little note nor long remember what we say here.”

Lincoln was as wrong as he could be about his own words.

Flickr user/_chrisUK / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

As the summer road construction season moves into its final weeks, you might find yourself wondering: instead of pouring time and money into patching roads that crack every year during the winter, why not make better concrete?

photojock / morgueFile

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) broke its own rule on road safety studies. That’s according to a new report from the Michigan auditor general’s office.

The self-imposed rule said MDOT must conduct at least one safety study on road projects in every region of the state.

But last fiscal year, the department failed to do a safety study in two of those seven regions. MDOT says that’s because it concentrated the studies on projects that had more importance.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry explained the politics behind the freshly passed roads funding bill and how it won't actually fix roads for a few years. He also gave an update on the Flint drinking water crisis and how it resulted in a new mayor in that city. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation that will increase fuel taxes and registration fees and re-prioritize spending to raise more than $1 billion to fix roads.

Yes, Virginia, there is a road funding plan

Nov 5, 2015
Cracked and broken roads
nirbhao / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The legislature this week passed a package of bills to fund Michigan roads. The legislation would bump up the state’s gas tax by seven cents per gallon, and boost vehicle registration fees by 20% beginning in 2017. It will increase taxes by $600 million also starting in 2017. The plan will also move $600 million from other areas in the state budget.

Cracked and broken roads
nirbhao / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

    

A late-night deal to fund road repair, construction and other transportation issues barely passed the Michigan House on Tuesday. After years of stalled debate, deals gone nowhere and a voter-rejected referendum, Governor Snyder is now reviewing a bill that partly solves the road funding question in Michigan.

Michigan Public Radio Network reporter Jake Neher explains the ins and outs of the bill in the interview above. 

Jack Lessenberry.
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry says he wasn't surprised to see that former state representatives Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser didn't regain their seats after their sex and cover up scandal. Lessenberry says Flint's water crisis was a big reason why political newcomer Karen Weaver will now take over Dayne Walling's position as Flint mayor. Lessenberry also explains the road funding plan, which is now on it's way to Governor Rick Snyder's desk. Lessenberry says the roads plan won't actually fix the roads. 


Cracked and broken roads
nirbhao / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

After years of gridlock, state lawmakers have sent Governor Rick Snyder legislation to boost road funding.

 The legislation would increase the state’s gas tax by seven cents a gallon and boost vehicle registration fees by twenty percent starting in 2017. It raises taxes by 600 million dollars starting in 2017. It also eventually shifts 600 million dollars from other areas of the state budget. 

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

There were feelings of optimism earlier this week in Lansing that the state Senate might just pass a road funding plan the House passed the week before.

But, once again, that optimism has fallen flat, as the House adjourned without a vote after about eight hours of discussion.

For this Week in Michigan PoliticsI talked with Michigan Radio's senior news analyst, Jack Lessenberry about why so many students didn't do well on the state's new standardized test and what should be done about bullying in schools. We also got an update on the latest road funding plan


Roads
Wikimedia Commons

Just fix the roads already.

That's what some Michigan business leaders are all but begging Lansing to do, even if means getting behind $600 million in new taxes and fees.

But they say  that’s how bad the roads are.

"I hope that's the message that the legislators hear, that it is just that important. Because we don't take this lightly,” says Rick Baker, President and CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

His group and six other chambers – mostly from West Michigan – put out a statement today demanding Lansing take “immediate action on roads.”

WFIU Public Radio / Creative Commons

The state House met into the night to adopt a road-funding plan, but it seems that a final deal on paying for road repairs remains elusive.

The $1 billion package relies on new fuel taxes and vehicle fees. But half the money would also come from cutting other parts of the budget.

president trump
flickr user Gage Skidmore / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's no secret that voters here in Michigan and across the country are angry and cynical about the notorious gridlock in Washington that has brought the country to its knees with budget showdowns.

It doesn't help that Michigan lawmakers have returned to their summer vacations without a deal to repair our decaying roads.

But as Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes points out, the state House found time to devote to a sex scandal.

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