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The best and worst roads in Michigan

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Potholes are only part of the challenge for motorists trying to survive Michigan's aging roadways.

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.

Is it possible that your city or county has the worst roads in the state with the worst roads in the country? Do you REALLY want to know? We tried to figure it out for you.

Use the interactive maps below to see ratings and rankings where you live.

The Pavement Surface Evaluation and Ratings (PASER) system rates individual segments of road on a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best). Michigan's Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC) organizes this data for the whole state and provided it to Michigan Radio. You can find the TAMC's interactive map with individual road ratings here

Using data collected in 2016, 2017, and 2018, we calculated an average rating for the county roads in every county. We did the same for municipally-owned roads in every city and village that had data available for at least five miles of road. 

Roger Belknap, TAMC coordinator for the Michigan Department of Transportation, says a major caveat is that state law only requires data submission on roads that are eligible for federal aid. So, these results don't include roads that don't qualify for that aid. 

"While the data collection does provide some results by jurisdiction, that is not really the focus of our statewide effort," he said in an e-mail.

There are also no brick, dirt or gravel roads in our analysis.

With those caveats in mind, we looked at more than 60,000 miles of road. Here's what we found.

Best and worst county roads (by average rating out of 10): 

1. Barry County (6.9)

2. Wexford County (6.6)

3. Leelanau County (6.3).


81. Saginaw (3.7)

82. Presque Isle (3.7)

83. Dickinson (3.5).

Best and worst city/village roads (by average rating out of 10):

1. Mackinaw City (7.7)

2. Merrill (6.9)

3. Bridgman (6.8).


Munising (2.7)

White Cloud (2.7)

Gaastra (2.2).

Kaye is an alumnus of Michigan Tech's environmental engineering program. She got her start making maps for the Traverse City-Based water news organization Circle of Blue, and, since then, she's been pretty devoted to science communication and data visualization.
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