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fix the damn roads

An absentee ballot in an envelope.
Nadya Peek / Flickr

Today on Stateside, a bill to give local clerks a head start on absentee ballot counting has hit a wall in the Legislature. We'll hear from one clerk who's going back to the drawing board. Plus, a conversation with the owner of an Ann Arbor record store owner about the albums he's listening to and loving right now. 

profile shot of Gretchen Whitmer
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Gretchen Whitmer kicked off a tour to sell her proposed budget with a speech to business leaders in southeast Michigan. In her address to the Detroit Economic Club, the governor said she’s standing by her call for a fuel tax increase to pay for road repairs.

She said road spending has grown too reliant over the past two decades on transfers from the state’s general fund. At the same time, she said, general fund revenue has remained steady.

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

The State Transportation Commission has given the go-ahead to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to sell taxpayer-backed bonds to finance Michigan’s most urgently needed road repairs.

“This will help us front load some projects that are really important in a crumbling infrastructure that is getting more dangerous and expensive by the day, getting a low interest rate and getting it done now so we can bend the curve so we can manage this asset,” says Whitmer.

A sign in Ann Arbor warns passing drivers of a massive pothole in the road.
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

It is a fact universally acknowledged that Michigan has terrible roads.

Well, unless you are state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), who said this month that he is not convinced there is a need for new road spending.

While there are a lot of arguments to be had about how to actually fix the roads by politicians and policy advisors and opinion columnists, there are some facts about Michigan’s roads that are indisputable.

person paying with a credit card on a square machine
Patrick Tomasso / Unsplash

The state Senate Republican leader has put the sales tax on the table as a possible way to fund road repairs. Governor Gretchen Whitmer and legislative leaders have re-started talks on how to pay for roads.

rape kits in the foreground and two women blurred in the background
G.L. Kohuth / Michigan State University

 

 

Today on Stateside, ten years after thousands of untested rape kits were found in a Detroit police warehouse, we talk to the prosecutor who’s been working though those cases. Plus, a conversation about climate change and its effect on Michigan agriculture.

 

 

Gretchen Whitmer wearing yellow vest while overseeing road work
Rick Pluta / Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has again called on Republican leaders to reconvene the Legislature to wrap up work on a new state budget and a plan to fix the roads.

But GOP leaders say there’s no reason to yet.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A recent study, that no Michigander needed, confirmed that we have the worst roads in the country.

But, all roads in our pothole-plagued state are not created equal.

Expressway with cars and a Pay Toll sign
soupstock / Adobe Stock

Governor Gretchen Whitmer ran on the promise to “fix the damn roads.” The Michigan House of Representatives is attempting to do just that with its proposed transportation budget for the next fiscal year.

Chelsea Oakes / Creative Commons

Wayne County officials hope a dire new roads study creates some "shock and awe" at the annual policy conference on Mackinac Island this week.

The study puts a staggering three billion dollar price tag on fixing Wayne County's roads and bridges. It says nearly 60% of the county's roads and 31% of the county's bridges are in poor condition.

That's up from 42% just two years ago.

pothole
Peter Atkins / Adobe Stock

For the next six weeks, Toledo will be on a pothole repair blitz. The plan is to fill 50,000 potholes throughout the city. That's more than twice the number that have been filled so far this year.

Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz says Toledo doesn't have quite as bad a pothole problem as some Michigan cities.  

But it's bad enough. 

Paul Ajegba (right) talks with people before Tuesday's Senate Advice and Consent committee meeting.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The man picked to implement Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s main campaign promise to “fix the damn roads” was grilled by state senators Tuesday.

Paul Ajegba has been with the Michigan Department of Transportation for nearly three decades. He was picked by the governor in December to serve as MDOT director. 

He told the Senate Advice and Consent committee that Michigan’s poor roads are a result of a history of temporary fixes to stretch state tax dollars. Ajegba noted Michigan has ranked near the bottom for per capita spending on roads.