Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Michigan Roads Decline as State fails to obtain Federal funds through Neglect

Not only are Michigan’s roads some of the worst in the United States due to lousy road maintenance and repair practices as well as chronic underfunding, but due to inexcusable neglect in the form of leaving road maintenance funds on the federal table rather than getting those funds to repair the roads.

In Lost road projects cost Michigan plenty, Douglas Buckler of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights points out the blatantly obvious - The State of Michigan royally and inexcusably messed up by not finding matching funds to get $740 million dollars in federal road repair funds. (With Michigan Department of Transportation processes and union work rules and wages that likely averages out to only repairing 740 miles of road, but still that is quite significant).

When 137 transportation projects were recently canceled across Michigan because of the state's economic situation and the inability to find matching funds to support the construction work, about $740 million was lost. And our state and our workers stand to lose plenty as well.
. . .
According to drivemi.org, 28 percent of Michigan's 10,754 roadway bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, while 38 percent of the state's 120,256 miles of roadways are rated in poor or mediocre condition. In May, the Michigan Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Michigan's infrastructure a grade of a D. And Thomas Maxwell, president of the state civil engineering group, says more than 90 percent of Michigan's 2,581 dams will reach the end of their design life by 2020.

This is bad news for Michigan. Poor road conditions combined with the abandonment of these crucial projects compromises the safety of all citizens.

Repair and reconstruction of our roads, bridges and freeways is obviously needed. It is time for a serious look at addressing our decaying infrastructure. Updating our roads and other infrastructure will help Michigan attract new business, which results in a stronger economy, more jobs and increased tax revenue.

By abandoning road and bridge repair and reconstruction projects, thousands of jobs are lost, affecting an untold number of Michigan households.
Mr. Buckler is exactly right that leaving this money unused is wasteful. Michigan is a net donor to the Federal government when it comes to transportation funds and this only makes that ratio of funds sent to funds received worse. Not only are jobs lost due to this but roads will decline even more, further harming the economy.

Governor Granholm should be required to explain how it occurred that the state government (mis)managed to pass this money up. Not only does it harm everyday Michigan residents but even her key supporters – union members who work on these projects that aren’t going to be working on them now. It’s good to see union leadership like Buckler take the state government to task and speak up for their members even in the face of the Disastrous Democrat’s decisions.