Cuts in Michigan's Budget, Cracks in Michigan's Roads

The SeeClickFix community in Michigan has grown significantly over the past month, thanks to our media partnership with the Journal Register company. Using widgets on sites like The Oakland Press and The Macomb Daily, Michigan residents have posted hundreds of quality of life concerns on SeeClickFix.

And they've caught the attention of the government. The Road Commission for Oakland County has posted several lengthy explanations on SeeClickFix issues about budget cuts which are preventing them from making new fixes. The infrastructure is literally crumbling as a result.

Check out this letter, posted on issue 36967 for repaving Joslyn Ave. in Pontiac, MI. While it's too bad that certain fixes aren't in the budget for this year, we appreciate the Road Commission's honesty and transparency when using SeeClickFix to address Oakland County residents.

We hope that SeeClickFix can help Oakland County save money in the long-run, as cities like Tuscon and San Francisco have pointed out, since the service helps government more efficiently target quality of life concerns.

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Road Commission wrote about 2 hours ago

The Road Commission for Oakland County shares your frustration. Unfortunately, there simply is no money available to resurface this road. It, like many, many other roads across the county SHOULD be resurfaced. However, due to the road-funding crisis we face in Michigan there is NO money to do so.

In fact, as a result of declining road funds, we predict far more roads will fall into disrepair in the coming several years. As we have said, take a look at the roads around you today. This is the best they are likely to be for a long time.

Because of the decline in road funding (we receive 5% less state road funding today than we received in 2000, while the costs of maintaining roads has gone up dramatically during this period), we have been forced to eliminate all road resurfacing projects except those paid for with federal dollars.

However, based on the amount of federal funding we receive, it will take us 137 years to repave all of the roads on our system on which federal funds can legally be spent. By that time, most will have long ago returned to gravel. That's the good news.

The bad news is that only one third of our system is federal-aid eligible (meaning we cannot legally spend federal dollars on the remaining two thirds of the road system). For that remaining two thirds of the system, there is NO funding available for resurfacing.

In fact, that is why more than 30 county road commissions across Michigan have already returned more than 100 miles of paved roads to gravel -- they could not afford to maintain the paved surfaced and there was no money available to resurface. In those situations, the only option is to pulverize the road and return it to gravel. I suspect we will see a lot more of that in coming years.

Why are we in this situation? Because Michigan has been among the bottom 10 states in the nation in per capita state and local road funding for more than 45 years. That means that since at least 1964, Michigan residents have been paying less to maintain their roads than the residents of most other states. Unfortunately, we have gotten what we paid for: An inferior, crumbling road system.

So, yes, we agree Joslyn should be resurfaced. Unfortunately, because Michigan has not made its roads a priority, there are no resources available to do this.

One final note: Unfortunately, we are also not able to patch the potholes on this road as frequently as we have in the past. As a result of our dropping budget, we now have 15% fewer employees than in 2007. That is a lot of bodies no longer available to patch potholes, plow snow, grade gravel roads, fix road flooding issues, etc., etc.

Road Commission for Oakland County