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Gretchen Whitmer
gretchenwhitmer.com

Potter Elementary School has no air conditioning. Signs taped to water fountains warn students not to use them because the water has not been tested for lead.

After touring the Flint school on Monday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer says there’s not enough money for schools, just like there’s not enough money for roads. And she says the solution is to ask taxpayers for more revenue. She says bonding and borrowing are out of the question – especially as the economy shows signs of softening.

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

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she’s still waiting to see a practical alternative to her proposal to increase the gas tax to pay for road improvements. She told a small business convention that Michigan has delayed tough choices for decades – and the result is roads and bridges ranked among the worst in the country.

Whitmer has called for a 45-cent-per-gallon increase in the fuel tax. She says past governors and legislators have moved money around without actually increasing funding for roads and bridges.

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.

Rush our traffic on US-23
YouTube Screen grab / MDOT

State officials say they need to spend $2.5 billion dollars more each year to fix Michigan’s roads and bridges. Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants to raise the money by increasing the fuel tax by 45 cents a gallon.

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.

Money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An international trade war could reduce how much money Michigan has to spend on roads, schools, and health care. That’s the word from economists who testified on Friday before a state budget panel that included the state treasurer, and state House and Senate budget directors.
               
The panel’s job is to determine how much revenue is available as the governor and the Legislature put together the state budget. The picture is stable at the moment as the economy hums and employment is high. 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit is spending $100 million on what it calls the most expansive infrastructure investment in the city’s recent history this construction season.

It includes the resurfacing of nearly 100 miles of major and residential streets throughout the city, along with the rebuilding or rehabbing of five bridges.

pothole
Peter Atkins / Adobe Stock

The state House Transportation Committee meets on Tuesday to continue hearings on fixing roads.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has called for phasing in fuel tax increases totaling 45 cents per gallon. Republicans control the Legislature – and say they will propose their own plan.

State Representative Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann) chairs the House Transportation Committee, and says he will hold an accelerated schedule of hearings.

“What we’re going to do with roads is being talked about and decided now,” he says.

Michigan highway
Logan / Adobe Stock

Almost half of Michigan's major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. That's according to a new report from a national transportation research group called TRIP.

TRIP says driving on rough roads costs the average Michigan driver between $500 to $800 dollars a year per vehicle.

striped safety cones on a road
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder still can’t build a bridge between a union and a construction trade association to end a roadwork stoppage across the state.

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

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.

striped safety cones on a road
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.

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