COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) - The Branch County Road Commission says it’s struggling to find the available revenues necessary to fund the preservation of county roads and bridges. While state revenues available for road and bridge repairs have fallen to decade lows, Road Commission manager Trent Arver says they have prioritized pavement preservation as a way to preserve the county road network. By conducting preventative maintenance tasks while the pavement is still in good condition rather than letting it deteriorate into poor condition, the Road Commission says it will save revenue over the long term, allowing more projects to be completed.
Arver says every dollar invested in preventative maintenance today, prevents spending between six and 14 dollars later as pavements deteriorate and become more costly to repair. According to Arver, to bring 80% of roads in the county to good and fair condition would cost approximately $12.4 million and to sustain this condition would cost approximately $8.4 million annually. The county’s total annual state funding is $3.9 million, and much of that is directed toward snow removal and summer routine maintenance needs. Roads throughout the state have been deteriorating, to the point that 46% percent of the federal-aid roads statewide are rated in “poor” condition compared to 57% rated in “poor” condition within Branch County according to the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council.
Arver says the Michigan Legislature has not increased transportation revenues available to road commissions, state gas taxes and vehicle registration fees, since 1997.
Governor Snyder said during his State of the State address this week that improving Michigan’s roads and bridges will take about 1.2-billion more dollars each year. He says that will take an increase in gas taxes and vehicle registration fees, about $120 per car each year. An alternative would be increasing the state sales tax by a penny but that would require approval of a state wide ballot issue.