Transportation group wants more state spending

How much money is needed to keep Michigan’s bridges and roads from falling into decay in the next 5 years? A lot more than the state has been spending in recent times, according to a leading transportation advocacy and research group based in the nation’s capital.

TRIP, which reviews, researches and comments on transportation spending across the nation, issued a report last week that said, in essence, Michigan must do more, much more, if it is going to keep up with projects that need to be completed.

Overall, the package of bills OK’d by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Legislature in 2015 will add about $4.2 billion in transportation spending between now and 2023. The funds will come from the state General Fund and increases in the state gas tax and vehicle registration.

“About one in 10 bridges in Michigan are structurally deficient,” Rocky Moretti, director of policy and research for TRIP, told the Detroit News.

According to the TRIP assessment, 20 percent of state-maintained roads were in bad condition now and are expected to deteriorate significantly over the next several years. By 2020, that number will more than double to 46 percent, if nothing is done to stop it.

The number of bridges that are in poor condition is expected to increase by 50 percent by 2023.

Road spending in Michigan over the years has been inconsistent, going back at least several administrations. No one wants to pay anything more to improve roads and bridges, until a spring pothole swallows someone’s car or a bridge is closed because it’s been declared unsafe.

Catching up, regrettably, will be neither quick nor painless.

— The Mining Journal, Marquette