Communities Asking for Extra Money for Road Budgets

By: Josh Sidorowicz Email
By: Josh Sidorowicz Email

"A supplemental for snow removal will only end up shortchanging road repair in the spring unless there's a more comprehensive solution."

- Rich Studley, President and CEO, Michigan Chamber of Commerce

Cities, counties and townships are having to plow the roads more often than they expected this winter, and they're plowing through their road budgets faster than expected too.

With MDOT predicting more potholes this spring than we've ever seen, many communities are looking for extra money from the state to cover repairs.

"If we expend all of the maintenance budget on plowing snow and filling potholes, there's nothing left to do things we need to do to actually preserve roads," said Monica Ware, spokesperson for the County Road Association of Michigan (CRAM).

Most communities are already burning through their summer budgets even with more than a month remaining until spring begins.

In Lansing, the city will be tapped out of its entire road maintenance budget for the year of about $2 million by spring, according to Randy Hannan, chief of staff for Mayor Virg Bernero.

"We're optimistic the state's going to find a way to help us out because when you've got this kind of widespread buy-in from legislators you've got a good shot," Hannan said.

Hannan said the City of Lansing has been in discussions with the governor's office and MDOT about the possibility of obtaining supplemental funds.

"We definitely support supplemental [funding] and anything they can do to provide some immediate relief, but it still doesn't take care of the long term problem," Ware said.

And therein lies another problem, with opponents arguing supplemental funding would only be a band-aid on a much larger issue.

"I don't think lawmakers should be involved in borrowing from Peter to pay Paul," said Rich Studley, president and CEO for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

"A supplemental for snow removal will only end up shortchanging road repair in the spring unless there's a more comprehensive solution,"

MDOT is expected to ask for roughly $30 million more for the year through a supplemental funding bill, though it's unclear how much each local road commission could stand to get from such a deal.

Rep. Paul Muxlow, the vice chair for the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, said while he hadn't yet seen any formal request for extra funding it is on the radar of several lawmakers.

More than 50 percent of Michigan local road miles are in poor condition with another 30 percent in fair condition, according to the state PASER rating system.


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