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Report: MI roads some of worst in nation, could jeopardize economy

April 27, 2015

Pavement conditions in Michigan have deteriorated to the point where the state’s roads are some of the worst in the country, which could lead to negative economic impacts down the road, a national research group has found. 

According to a report released today by the Washington, D.C.-based transportation research group TRIP, the number of Michigan roads in poor condition is projected to increase to 53 percent by 2025 if funding is not significantly increased. The number of structurally deficient bridges is expected to increase from 12 to 14 percent by 2023. 

The cost of upgrading all of Michigan’s major roads in poor or fair condition to good condition would cost $14.1 billion if the repairs were done now, but that cost would only compound the longer the roads go without proper maintenance, said Rocky MORETTI, TRIP’s director of policy and research. 

Compared to the rest of the United States, Moretti said Michigan is “one of the worst states across the country” in terms of pavement conditions. The state had made some progress in addressing bridge improvements, but would likely slide backwards again without adequate funding, he said. 

“In Michigan, it’s getting worse, but getting worse quicker, unfortunately, in terms of pavement,” he said. 

The report found that this trend could severely inhibit the state’s economic development because of issues with transportation and additional shipping costs associated with poor road conditions. 

“Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to relocate or expand,” the report concluded. “Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system.” 

Although the group does not take official positions on legislative or ballot initiatives, Moretti said the $1.2 billion-per-year boost in funding proposed in Proposal 1 would “be critical in starting to turn the ship around.” 

“I think the real question is, if they don’t do it, what happens?” Moretti said. “I think that would lead to further deterioration.” 

TRIP’s report factored in preliminary data gleaned from Michigan’s Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC), which releases an annual report on state road conditions. TAMC’s full report on road conditions is set to be released April 30. 

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