Road Commission Running Dry on Funds

By: Liam Martin Email
By: Liam Martin Email

No money, no bridge.

"When you have costs going up like that, and revenue going down, it's just like at home. You go out of business at some point," said Bill Conklin, director of the local road commission.

The business is the Willoughy Road Bridge, in Alaiedon Township. The costs are the repairs that Conklin says the overpass desperately needs. Now he's shutting it down. And he says, without more funding from MDOT, it could be closed for the next three years.

"The main problem that caused us to decide to close the bridge to traffic is there are rust holes, or what we call corrosion, in the main support columns," he said.

Conklin says it could take up to $2 million to replace those columns. The problem, of course, is finding the money to do it.

High gas prices and a slumping economy are keeping drivers off the road. Bad news for the road commission, which relies heavily on gas tax revenues. The group has lost 10 percent of its revenues from that source over the past six years.

Conklin's solution? Raise the gas tax.

Michigan drivers currently pay just 19 cents a gallon -- 46th lowest in the country.

"On the local road system, I would say upwards of 50 percent of our roads need significant work, and probably upwards of 50 percent of our bridges, as well," Conklin said.

A gap that both he and Michigan drivers hope can be closed soon.

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  • by steve Location: lansing on Jul 20, 2009 at 12:34 PM
    one could rehab bridge with splice repair just use 1-1/2 in thick steel plates bolted to the sound portion, load test it and program for replacement in 5 yrs.
  • by Trina Location: East Lansing on Jul 20, 2009 at 07:53 AM
    46th lowerest gas tax in the county? That means it's the 5th highest. Is that really what the writer of this story intended to say?
  • by Brad Location: Dansville on Jul 19, 2009 at 07:01 PM
    Ive been to many states threw my career and drove lots of roads. If you want to save money dont plow snow till its three inches or deeper you live in michigan it snows here!! So instead of begging for more money do like every other Michigan residents do save and spend wisely the money you have!!!!
  • by Anonymous Location: Lansing on Jul 18, 2009 at 02:37 PM
    Makes you wonder where all the funds are going!!!!!!! Maybe a investigation is in order.
  • by Liam Location: Lansing on Jul 18, 2009 at 10:39 AM
    Don, the link you posted combines state, local and federal gas taxes. The 19-cents-a-gallon figure I reference is the state rate, which is 46th-lowest in the country.
  • by Don Location: Holt on Jul 18, 2009 at 04:51 AM
    Do your homework before you spread incorrect information! We currently pay 49.3 cents per gallon in gas tax the tenth highest! see link - What are they doing with this money?
  • by Anonymous on Jul 17, 2009 at 03:45 PM
    What are our priorities? Infrastructure, police, fire, welfare, public education,
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