Official: Potholes could be worse than ever

Michigan's top transportation official warned lawmakers Tuesday that the coming pothole season may be worse than many drivers have ever seen, blaming a "brutal" winter for ruining deteriorating roads he said already are in poor condition because of a long-term funding crisis.
AP Wire
Feb 12, 2014

State Transportation Department Director Kirk Steudle said an extra $30 million, a third more than budgeted, is needed after near-constant snowplowing in parts of Michigan and because salt usage and costs have doubled from a year ago. Local governments are confronting similar financial problems, he said.

"We're going to see one of the biggest pavement breakouts we've probably ever seen in our lifetime," Steudle told the House transportation budget subcommittee, which met to begin considering the proposed 2014-15 budget unveiled last week by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. "The next couple months are going to be very, very interesting."

For now, the agency will tap into summer maintenance money to continue clearing highways and improving freeway lighting but likely will request a special mid-year appropriation to account for winter spending. It is possible the GOP-led Legislature could put additional money aside for counties and cities, too.

Snyder did not build into the next budget his request for gasoline tax and vehicle registration fee increases, which stalled last year despite Michigan regularly not collecting enough in transportation revenue to ensure a federal match. For the third straight year, the state will use general fund dollars — part of a nearly $1 billion budget surplus — to ensure the match comes through.

The governor "called for the fact that we have to deal with this problem. We've been pushing off this problem for 10 years," Steudle said. "We can match federal aid and it's still going to fall all apart."

Though Snyder's permanent funding solution was held up last year, lawmakers did put $230 million into a new Roads and Risks Reserve Fund. Legislators in December announced that half would fund 103 state and local projects across Michigan.

The current budget includes language stating legislative "intent" that the $115 million balance goes to roads effective Feb. 1 if not appropriated for other purposes, but talks continue among lawmakers and Snyder.

"The lion's share of us (in the House) definitely want to see it go to roads," House Appropriations Committee Chairman Joe Haveman, R-Holland, told The Associated Press. "This winter has been tougher than average. ... A lot of our members have said we need to do something for locals, we need to get money back out as soon as the frost is out of the ground."

Snyder's next $3.6 billion transportation budget would include $254 million in one-time general fund spending, more than half to qualify for federal matching funds. The remaining $115 million for state roads and bridges would be the same amount of additional state aid committed to date in the current fiscal year.

Snow plows have been on southwest Michigan roads for 67 straight days, Steudle said. He said the purchasing power for road and bridge projects is down 30 percent from 14 years ago because of stagnant revenue as people drive less and use more fuel-efficient vehicles and asphalt, salt and other supply costs rise.

"With frost so deep in the ground and daily snowplowing in some areas, the wear-and-tear on our roads will show up in frightening ways this spring," said Denise Donohue, director of the County Road Association of Michigan.

Because maintenance budgets are being depleted this winter, she said, it could affect projects in the spring and summer.

"Those projects are merely stop-gap measures until a holistic solution emerges from Lansing," Donohue said.

A longer-term fix, however, is highly unlikely before the November election.

 

Comments

galwithscense

Returning to Grand Haven from The Lakes Mall last night I thought I drove into the Grand Canyon!! After stopping at the 3 way stop on Pontaluna and U.S 31 heading west there was a 3' diameter pothole that was at least 5" deep and of course I hit it with my left front wheel very hard. I continued on my way and found my car to be pulling to the left at highway speeds. This morning I reported this pothole to the county, they had not been notified of this pothole as of 11:00 AM today. I guess I had better get some of those super bright blue headlights to help avoid these nasty potholes in the future. Now my car will be needing front end work $$$$!!

bigdeal

Michigan ranks LAST per capita spending on roads & bridges. Just $154/person ANNUALLY.
http://www.detroitnews.com/artic...

davewali

Grand Haven Road, starting at the county line to Pontaluna. (Muskegon County, Norton Shores) Better than a massage vibrator in your seat....and that is NOT a compliment.

LessThanAmused

Agreed, used to have to run over that one every day twice. That's not even a road anymore, just a collection of incredibly poorly patched potholes, interspersed with lots of cracks and changes in elevation.

Lanivan

That one-mile stretch or so is THE worst piece of road. Norton Shores will not pony up and re-surface it, but has worked north of Pontaluna at least twice in the last few years. In order to stay sane, I have had to view it as part of my work-out on my way to my fitness center.

LessThanAmused

Hey, Here's a thought Ms. Lani....Just park the car alongside the highway with a distress sticker on it, jump the fence and run up to the door. Think of it as a pre-workout warmup :-)

Lanivan

LOL! - It's amazing the calories I burn frantically dodging pot-holes, not to mention oncoming traffic, all the while bouncing around in my seat that has got to be doing something for my core (or other anatomical parts)! I hadn't thought about parking along side the road and running up to the door - that would take it to a whole new level! :-S

LessThanAmused

Well, if you like those suggestions you could hire me on as your workout coach and I could develop a whole system workout that would make you feel 10 years older.....errr younger. ;-D

Lanivan

Brilliant! I can see it now - you'd make me run next to you while you leisurely rode your bicycle, my cries for mercy drowned out by your ear buds while you listen and hum along to the Beatles, stopping abruptly to capture the perfect image with your camera while directing me to do push-ups in the interim, and then preach to me on how much I'll appreciate all your coaching someday. Then half-way through the tortu....regimen, you'll pull out a bag of homemade cookies your wife packed you and let crumbs fall on the sidewalk as an 'incentive'. :-@!

LessThanAmused

Wow, it's like you know me! The only part I'd correct would be the humming part.....I would sing along at the top of my lungs, in a different key than the song requires, thus adding even more incentive for you to run hard and fast!

Have you ever done the Mackinac Bridge walk? We could start training for that now if you'd like... :-D

Lanivan

I'd love to, but there is one slight problem. I was once stuck on another monumental bridge - the Chesapeake Bay Bridge - when our car broke down. It was a defining moment as the experience was so traumatic it rendered me totally witless about even driving over tall bridges, let alone walking. Maybe if I was guaranteed a spot right in the middle so I can't look over the edge? I bet YOU have walked the bridge - seems like your cup of tea. Was it a horrifying experience?

LessThanAmused

I've done it 17 times since 1977. Got 17 T-shirts to prove it. Got one on right now as a matter of fact. It's a great experience. After so many times I've got it down to a science now. You'd think it'd be the same walk every year, but it's never the same....weather is different, (Been rained on, snowed on, had T-shirt weather and winter coat weather, gale force winds....) different groups of people with their agendas show up, always interesting....The last time I did it there was some nut in his pickup truck, with HUGE pictures in the bed of his truck of aborted babies, yelling at us as he drove by. He just drove back and forth across the bridge all morning. That was not cool, but some people seem to think we still have the right to freedom of expression.

The only time it was really screwed up was the year ole Georgie Bush Sr. decided to come on up and walk it. Messed up my whole system. Sure way to ruin any party is to invite some politician to it. I've even been up to the very tip top of it, all 552ft of it from water to top with one of the engineers who helped design and build it, but that's a story for another forum.

Here's a link. Haven't been up there for awhile now, hoping to get up there this year for sure.

http://www.mackinacbridge.org/an...

Lanivan

I knew it! - I DO know you! Kudos to you for crossing even in gale force winds..I remember back in the 90's a young woman driving a small sub-compact during high winds was blown off the bridge to her death. I'll bet every time was a great adventure, and I envy you the experiences. Maybe some time soon I should conquer my phobia and do the walk, - heck, if you can go to the very tip of it, surely I can mosey across with a lifeline and life jacket attached, and friends and family surrounding me with Dramamine and Valium, just in case....

LessThanAmused

Piece of cake girl and now that you're a Michigander you are bound, legally I think, to do it at least once in your lifetime. If you get serious, let me know and I'll send ya a copy of my "How to do the Bridgewalk, tips and tricks".

One year we were up there and it was really windy, really windy and about the time we got out in between the towers we noticed we were having trouble walking in a straight line...we looked around and noticed everybody else was having the same problem and giggling about it once we realized it was the bridge swinging in the wind. We looked like a bunch of Saturday night drunks trying to do a sobriety test after being pulled over.....We walked to and fro until we got down past the towers and then things stabilized again.

The Engineer I hung out with at the top told me that the bridge was designed to be able to swing 15 feet in any direction!

Here's the link to Leslie and her Yugo......

http://articles.chicagotribune.c...

Got a story to go along with this, for some other time.

watchingyou

That stretch is scheduled to be redone this year. It was announced last February. I actually backtrack out of my way to avoid that stretch. Harvey from Judson to the curve is getting just as bad. Old Grand Haven Road is the worst I have seen thaough.

http://www.mlive.com/news/muskeg...

Lanivan

This is actually the best news I've heard in some time. Thanks for the heads up, watchingyou!

Lanivan

Gee - I thought it was announced that Michigan has a $971 million budget surplus this year! Ya' think we could use some of it to fix the "deteriorating roads due to a long-term funding crisis"?

ghjhs

You can expect trickey Rickey,if re-elected,will doudle our car registration and plates alons with higher tax on gas..my question is were did the money go that we already paid in gas tax and plate fee's ect.

LessThanAmused

I already made that suggestion, here and to his office in Lansing, but the monkey sitting at the big desk now wants us all to share in the supposed windfall surplus and help to possibly ensure his reelection bid. Back when I used to care they called that buying votes, but I'm sure they figured out a way to justify it nowadays......

I don't have enough money coming in these days to pay all the bills on time, but I'd still rather see that supposed surplus go towards something that would benefit us all AND the state in the long run. A small one time check will disppear quickly and then we'll still have crappy roads to drive on. 6 months later he'll be back with his hand out wanting a tax increase because now we short cash to "do what we need to do to make Michigan a viable place for new business"

I can see the subtitle on the Welcome to Michigan signs already. "Welcome to the land of the indentured servant workforce".

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