Monday, November 02, 2009

Michigan's Inefficient Spending on Roads - The Fort Street Rebuild As An Example

Part of the reason Michigan's roads are in such terrible condition, compared to other states is not just that work and maintenance has simply not been done, but the sheer cost of the repairs.

To repair 1.2 miles of one road including an overpass will cost approximately $40 Million dollars.

Crumbling Fort Street to undergo overhaul
Drivers who've put up with a bumpy stretch of Fort Street and one of the region's most notoriously decrepit bridges will have a chance to see plans next week for $40 million in upgrades to the roadway and the overpass in southwest Detroit....That's what the Michigan Department of Transportation has in store for Fort between Schaefer Highway and Oakwood Boulevard in Detroit -- roughly between the Fort-Schaefer I-75 exit and the Rouge River. The project is scheduled to begin next summer and last through late 2011.
$40 Million dollars to repair all of 1.2 miles? At that rate the state will run out of money long before it runs out of roads to fix.

Certainly it is time the state looks into how to control the costs of road maintenance. I remember when $1 million per mile was absurd, but $40 million is just plain nuts. Whether it means streamlining the process, dropping favored clauses and padding from contracts and getting real performance bids, or reexamining all the costs involved, something needs to be done.

Making matters worse on the Fort street project is the overpass itself, namely that
Despite its condition, the overpass is on the National Register of Historic Places, MDOT spokesman Rob Morosi said , and can't be redesigned.
An overpass as a historic site? Yes, it really is:
Fort Street--Pleasant Street and Norfolk & Western Railroad Viaduct [Image]

URL: http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/00000116.pdf
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URL: http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Photos/00000116.pdf
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Publisher: National Park Service
Published: 02/18/2000
Access: Public access
Restrictions: Public domain
Is Part Of: Highway Bridges of Michigan MPS
Format/Size: Physical document with text, photos and map
Language: eng: English
Note: Fort St. over Pleasant St. and N&W RR.
Item No.: 00000116 NRIS (National Register Information System)
Subject: EVENT
Subject: ARCHITECTURE/ENGINEERING
Subject: COMMUNITY PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
Subject: ENGINEERING
Subject: TRANSPORTATION
Subject: STRUCTURE
Subject: 1925-1949
Keywords: Wayne County Road Commission;1928
Place: MICHIGAN -- Wayne County -- Detroit

Record Number: 133203
Record Owner: National Register of Historic Places
No idea what it or its designer did for it to be so designated, but who knows how much extra that adds to the cost of repair, not to mention it can't be updated for safety or improved traffic flow.

In any case, $40 million for 1.2 miles is simply too much.

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