ROADS/BRIDGES: TRIP report indicates Michigan economic recovery stunted by poor roads

The agency’s latest report identifies a 15% increase in poor roads conditions over the past 8 years

April 22, 2015

In a time of unique and often persistent economic challenges, the state of Michigan has, of late, seen steady improvement following the Great Recession. However, according to a recent report produced and issued by TRIP, that recovery may be hamstrung by a manifold increase in road deterioration, lack of new safety measures and general lack of proper funding.

In its report released earlier this week, TRIP stated: “The percentage of Michigan's major roads that are in poor condition increased significantly in recent years, from 23% in 2006 to 38% in 2014.”

Recommendations advised by the report include boosting transportation investment at all levels, from local to federal in effort to support long-term economic growth.

Such overtures have become so much grist for the mill since concerns over the degradation of the Highway Trust Fund began reaching national levels later last year. And while these overtures must necessarily persist, agencies like TRIP find themselves awash in a political wind that threatens to drown the call altogether. Nonethless, a solution is required.

“The bottom line is that the state has a significant amount of road and bridge deterioration, and it's only going to get worse at the current level of funding,” said Rocky Moretti, director of policy and research for TRIP and architect of the recent report.

According to TRIP, driving on poor roads costs Michigan motorists a total of $4.8 billion each year in the form of heightened vehicle operating costs, representing an average cost of $686 annually per motorist, which include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repairs, increased fuel consumption and tire wear. In order to get all of the state’s roads to “good” will cost $14.1 billion, according to TRIP.

This report comes less than a fortnight before Michigan residents will vote on Proposition 1, which calls for dropping the 6% sales tax on gasoline/diesel sales and replacing it with a new wholesale fuel tax system and an increase in the state sales tax from 6-7% on all other currently taxed goods. It is expected that $1.2 billion in new road funding could be gleaned from the measure.