Weighing Patching Potholes vs. Repaving

The patches are still fresh on Harrison Road in East Lansing. A 'band-aid' for drivers looking to escape what this winter has left behind.

"From this point forward, if we're not actively fighting snow, we'll have crews out patching roads," said Ron LaCasse, Infrastructure Administrator for East Lansing Public Works.

Potholes litter the streets across Mid-Michigan. LaCasse says Harrison is one of the worst in East Lansing and in need of a permanent fix. That's not possible for another two years because there's just not enough money.

"For major streets, we have a four or five year plan that we work with," he said. "There's currently a list of four years of projects that are currently on a funding list."

Which means the temporary patch will have to do, but with rainy weather ahead, that work could get washed away. That cost adds up, but it doesn't come close to the cost of reconstruction.

"It could be upwards of a few hundred thousand dollars to reconstruct a road or repave a road," said Bob Griffis of the Jackson County Department of Transportation. "Patching the potholes, the cold patch is roughly 60-something dollars a ton."

Still, Jackson County has gone through half of its cold patch material and will likely finish off the second half in the next month. With so many crumbling roads, the question is being thrown around.

"Is it more cost effective to continue patching it or do some other type of fix or to reconstruct it?," said Griffis.

In a phone call, Jackson Mayor Jason Smith told me it's the latter for roads like Brown Street, which will be repaved in the near future. But no matter where you go, the money will only go so far.


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