A group of Delta County residents was recently asked by the Daily Press what they thought about the condition of the area's roads. Their responses were published in the Snapshots feature on Saturday's opinion page. Overwhelmingly, they thought area roads were in bad shape and needed improvement.
With the help of Mother Nature, though, the area might benefit from better roads this summer.
No one likes to travel on a bad roads, and yes, the area does have its share of nasty roads. Local officials, however, can't be blamed. Like most of society, ranging from government agencies to the average American family, they are trying to live with less in challenging economic times. The bottom line is there is far less revenue to repair roads now that there has been in past years. People are driving less, and that means there are less tax dollars available for road repairs and construction.
Local government is also seeing state and federal revenue sources dry up or fall far short from past years. Tough decisions have to be made concerning the services government provides - and that includes road maintenance. In fact, many road commissions, including the Delta County Road Commission, are considering converting some paved roads to gravel so they can continue to be maintained on the agency's limited budget.
It's true. The area's roads have seen better days. There is a ray of sunshine, though. It is, in part, being provided by the mild winter and lack of snowfall experienced by the area this year.
Because of where we live, area snow removal and winter road maintenance budgets are large. Large amounts of snowfall requires much labor and money to remove. With less snowfall this year, much of the snow removal budget has not been touched. This will free up those funds to be used on road maintenance projects during the summer months. That will benefit everyone who uses local roads.
The city of Escanaba has also gained funding to repair a badly worn Stephenson Avenue this summer. It is one of the most traveled streets in the city, and fresh asphalt will benefit everyone.
Another benefit of the mild winter is reports of less potholes this year. This will also save area road agencies money that can be used toward other projects.
These are positive developments we can all be happy about.