Report Finds Crumbling Roads Cost Michigan Drivers $8 Billion

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

"What's it going to take? Is it going to take a bridge falling for people to wake up and say, 'We've got to address this problem'?" -Kirk Steudle, Director of Michigan Department of Transportation

If you think Michigan's roads are bad, buckle up for some startling information and numbers.

A new report out today shows just how much the potholes and crumbling pavement are costing drivers in the state, and it's in the billions.

Even without official data, ask any driver about the conditions of the roads, and the answer is easy.

"Horrible. They definitely need to be fixed," Nichole Keckler said while pumping gas.

Fixing them means funding, and the Michigan Department of Transportation director is pushing for just that. He admits the roads need work, and so does his own car.

"My car is going in tonight for a front wheel bearing, and it's due to poor roads," MDOT Director Kirk Steudle said.

So, he wasn't surprised by the findings from TRIP, a national non-profit transportation research group. According to the report, Michigan roads cost drivers $7.7 billion each year in the form of vehicle repairs, lost time, and wasted fuel due to traffic.

"It's our lack of maintenance of this great system," Steudle said. "We just want to run it into the ground. That's really what we're doing right now."

The data for the report comes from local, county, and state agencies. In Lansing, the report shows 49 percent of major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, and that costs every driver more than $1,000 each year.

"The state hasn't invested adequately in its transportation system, and you look around and you see the results," TRIP Director of Police and Research Rocky Moretti said.

The safety of bridges and overpasses is also a major concern. The report found 27 percent of bridges in the state show significant signs of deterioration.

Steudle hopes all of this is a wake-up call.

"What's it going to take? Is it going to take a bridge falling for people to wake up and say, 'We've got to address this problem'?" Steudle said.

He's happy the governor addressed road funding again at this year's state of the state. Now he wants the legislature to act on it, and the public to understand what it will take.

MDOT and county agencies have made cuts over the years, but it still isn't enough to pay for the road improvements needed. If anything, it adds to the problem. Steudle suggests increasing registration fees, and he said the longer the state waits, the more expensive it will get.

"You can't just wish it away," Steudle said. "If you want a world class system, then we have to pay for it."

The full TRIP report can be found here: http://tripnet.org/


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