CRAM protests ‘state of roads’
LANSING – The state of the roads in Michigan are increasingly in poor and fair condition due to a decade of decline in gas tax revenue, and the disinvestment is having a significant negative impact on the state, CRAM leaders said recently in a news conference next to a pot-holed road near the Capitol.
“Michigan’s road conditions are impacting everyone – from citizens to law enforcement to business leaders – and the time to stop the decline is now,” said Denise Donohue, director of the County Road Association of Michigan. “You cannot get a group of co-workers around the water cooler these days without someone having personally experienced a flat tire, bent rim, broken wheel or front-end alignment problem this year. Our local roads are unraveling and showing the effect of 17 years since the last increase in the gas tax.”
Donohue said there are many reasons for decreased road funding over the past decade including a gas tax that does not adjust with inflation, lower gas tax revenues due to recession and more fuelefficient vehicles, and the fact that $1 billion collected at the pump annually does not go to roads. She called on the Michigan Legislature to pass a sustainable solution that fully addresses the funding challenges to maintaining quality local roads. Fuel tax collections have dropped from $1.05 billion to $935 million over the last decade, while costs for construction materials and equipment have skyrocketed.
Rich Studley, Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said fixing the roads is vital to business and the state’s economy.
“Our message has been clear – if you want to create jobs and boost economic growth, fix the roads,” he said. “Spending more on roads not only would avoid cracked windshields, but would create jobs directly and indirectly. This is why the Michigan Chamber, which normally advocates for lower taxes and smaller government, supports increased funding for highway improvements.”
The administration of Gov. Rick Snyder has made road funding a priority of his administration, saying that a modern infrastructure is vital to attracting and retaining jobs. He has encouraged the Legislature to take up the issue.
Brad Lamberg, President of the County Road Association of Michigan and Managing Director of the Barry County Road Commission, said $2.1 to $2.5 billion in new funds, run through the state’s transportation formula, is essential to a solid transportation system in his county and across the state.
“Michigan is dead last among all 50 states in per capita funding for roads. We can’t save our way out of this problem and it has left county road agencies struggling,” he said. “We must make difficult choices about which repairs we can afford to make, and often are forced to repair the worst roads first rather than focus on our true priorities.
“The county road agencies are encouraged that the Michigan House is now addressing the issue, and we encourage our representatives to create a road funding plan.”