Lansing Roads Bad, Likely to Get Worse

By: Alex Goldsmith Email
By: Alex Goldsmith Email

It's a bumpy ride for Lansing's drivers these days and the coming thaw, complete with potholes, is only going to make the problem worse.

Not that things are great right now.

"We're behind," said Virg Bernero, Lansing's mayor. "We know we have miles of road that need work. We're suffering from decades of under-investment in our roads."

"The overall condition of Lansing roads isn't good," said Dean Johnson, Lansing's city engineer. "We're doing the best we can but with continued neglect the condition of our streets keeps declining and that makes the fix even more expensive."

According to Johnson, 44 percent of Lansing roads are considered "poor" right now. Johnson says that in order to start bringing Lansing's road quality back up, the city needs to start making a serious investment.

"We estimate that we should be spending $15 million on our roads every year just in capital improvements," said Johnson.

In Mayor Bernero's budget for next year though, there's $350,000 in city funds set aside. The city would add $1.1 million to that if the property tax millage passes in May but that would only repair 3 miles worth of local streets.

"We may only be able to get to those bad potholes but believe me, you want us to get to those bad potholes," said Bernero.

There's a more immediate problem too. The same pool of state money, known as Act 51 funding, that the city uses to patch roads is also used to plow and salt roads during the winter.

"We've virtually used up our Act 51 funds on this tough winter," said Bernero.

And becuase of increasingly fuel efficient vehicles and a smaller state population, state gas tax money is shrinking going forward anyway.


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