If you think the roads are the worst they have been in recent history, you are right. That is the message the Oakland County Road Commission and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments are sending out loud and clear.
SEMCOG has been sending inspectors out to rate roads every year, for years. When you look at their data, you can see we have a big problem.
The number of roads in poor condition has increased dramatically. (You can see a map detailing road conditions in the region, here)
“For the last 17-years, every year the condition of the system gets worse,” said Carmine Palombo, Deputy Executive Director of SEMCOG.
Palombo says inspectors will start the newest study in April and they expect this to be the worst year on record.
“For more than 10 years we have been warning the state that the current situation was coming,” said Craig Bryson, Senior Manager of Communications at the Oakland County Road Commission.
Bryson says he appreciates that lawmakers recently increased funding for roads, approving $175 million more for road repairs in the state. However, to get Oakland County’s roads alone in good shape will take more than that.
“Above a billion dollars just to take the roads that are in poor condition and improve them. That is 600 miles of roads. And keep in mind that the roads that are in fair condition today are going to be deteriorating over the next couple of years,” said Bryson.
So what is the answer? SEMCOG and Oakland County say it may require a tax increase. Right now drivers pay taxes on gas to fund the roads.
“People don’t realize for example that they have been spending less money on roads. Their taxes have actually gone down, because their miles per gallon have improved. In the meantime, the cost of improvements continues to go up and the number of roads in bad shape continues to increase,” said Palombo.