State might receive more funding for road repairs

The state Senate and House agreed on a budget supplemental that will give additional, one-time funds to road departments.

While the supplemental will fund a myriad of state organizations from the Department of Treasury to natural resources, $215 million of the $330 million would be given to the state transportation department.

The funding is much needed after severe winter weather blew through Michigan this year.

According to MDOT Communications Director Jeff Cranson, the weather, coupled with the rapid degradation of the roads, has in turn created “a perfect storm that will result in terrible road conditions this spring.”

Cranson said the budget for winter road work is estimated at about $120 million this year, with average numbers being $88 million.

In recent years, the quality of Michigan roads has declined due to lack of funding put toward repairs.

Cranson said this can be traced to the majority of funding being produced from gas taxes.

“We rely so much on the gas tax, but are starting to drive more fuel efficient cars, this leads to our roads on a downward curve,” said Cranson.

If signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, the supplemental would be divided between “special winter road maintenance” and “priority road projects.”

Bill Conklin, managing director for the Ingham County Road Commission, said the money allocated to winter road maintenance will be split up among cities, towns and villages to help pay for the most-needed resources, such as pothole repair and road salt.

The money being devoted to priority road projects will be given to “shovel ready projects that are approved by legislative leaders,” said Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw.

Cities and towns across Michigan are vying for consideration, but with many degrading roads in Michigan, the decisions will be tough.

“We have (the) University Drive bridge that had to be closed because inspectors found a crack in the beams, we have major work to be done on I-94 and I-75 near Detroit,” Cranson said.

“With this much work, 115 million doesn’t go very far.”

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