Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan lawmakers are a long way from fixing the state’s roads. She proposed higher fuel taxes. Republicans pushed back, but have yet to offer their own long-term plan. Construction experts estimate Michigan needs to generate another $2.5 billion dollars per year to adequately address the state’s infrastructure problems. They also say the longer it takes for politicians to come up with a solution, the more expensive it will be.
Wayne County Executive Warren Evans says all local governments can do is put bandages on their infrastructure. The county plans to spend $82 million on road and bridge projects. Public Services Director Beverly Watts says the county is also conducting an asset management survey to determine the condition of its roads and bridges.
“This asset management plan is going to tell us a couple things,” Watts says. “One, the condition of all the roads and bridges in Wayne County; and two, how much it would cost if we are to get those roads and bridges in a 90 percent good condition.”
Watts says the state is providing the $82 million dollars, using a formula that determines how much funding each Michigan county gets. There’s a debate going on in Lansing on whether that system is fair. Watts says the formula does not address Wayne County’s unique infrastructure needs.
“All the major sports teams’ headquarters are here in Wayne County.” Watts says. “We have some of the most robust industrial companies that reside here in Wayne County, and we have landfills that receive traffic and trash from Canada.”
Watts says people often ask her why Ohio and other states have better roads than Michigan. She says those states invest more in their infrastructure.
“They’re putting more in than just a gas tax and registration fees,” Watts says.
Major projects in 2019 include resurfacing Outer Drive between Seven Mile Rd. and :Livernois. Click on the audio player to hear the conversation with WDET’s Pat Batcheller.