Battle Over Battered Roads At State Capitol

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Michigan lawmakers are heading toward a mid-year budget showdown over paying for more road projects. A Republican-led House budget committee has approved legislation to set aside $215 million for higher-than-usual road maintenance bills this winter and longer-lasting road and bridge projects. That's $115 million more than the GOP-controlled Senate approved last week.

It’s been an expensive year for state and local road agencies. More snow, meant more plows out on the road, more overtime for crews, more salt, and more potholes. Denise Donohue, Director of County Road Association of Michigan says agencies are hurting. "Some of them have blown through 60, 70, you know, 80 percent of the year's funding already."

Today, Governor Rick Snyder said his staff is crunching the numbers, to help come up with a short-term solution to fix the state’s crumbling roads. “I think the important thing is we recognize this is a record winter, and everyone knows how bad the potholes are already, so I’m supportive of doing something, now we just need to have good dialogue about the dollar amount."

Rep. Sam Singh, (D) East Lansing, says a long-term solution to road funding is long overdue.
“We have to have the larger conversation about the roads that unfortunately hasn't happened here at the Capitol in the last couple of years under this administration. They've talked about it but just haven't been able to get it done.”

Senator Rick Jones, (R) Grand Ledge, says “We're in a crisis right now, I've talked to a number of road commissions that say they have used so much money in overtime, for their employees to plow their snow, and the salt costs and everything, that literally, this summer, they'll have to lay employees off right when we need them to fill the potholes and everything they need to fix. I favor as many millions as we can find to put into the local road commissions, and get our roads up to par. “

Governor Snyder hopes the short-term problem leads to a long-term solution. "This won't solve our road problem, what we're doing, this will fill potholes and help pay for salt, and overtime."