Cynical Synapse

Mon, 23 Mar 2009

Michigan Roads: “The Pits”

Filed under: Driving, Economy, Gas Prices, Life, Michigan, Rants, Take action — cynicalsynapse @ 8:48 pm

That’s what Gov. Jennifer Granholm said while proposing a change to Michigan’s gas tax from 19 cents per gallon to a percentage. While few will disagree Michigan roads are in sad shape, changing the gas tax isn’t really the answer. And Granholm’s proposal will adversely impact those who have to drive some distance for work. In Michigan’s economy, anyone who has a job deserves any break they can get.

In addition to the 19 cents per gallon, consumers also pay the 6% sales tax. Diesel, however, is only taxed at 15 cents per gallon plus the sales tax. Yet, Michigan permits 82-ton trucks on its roads, about double of other states. Hmmm. The vehicles that do the most road damage pay less in road taxes. Am I missing the logic?

There are other solutions. Besides the obvious allocating the sales tax to transportation, how about a review of MDOT’s staffing? We pay $6 million to staff the so-called Intelligent Traffic System, never mind the cost of the stupid variable message signs that rarely have anything relevant to say. Around metro-Detroit, they’ve all said “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” for the last two weeks. How about current road conditions? Europe gets this; why is the US and MDOt so clueless?

Excessive detail mile marker sign.

MDOT’s budget includes almost $285 million for repairing guardrails, mowing, and snow removal. Seems to me, the snow removal piece comes after rush hour, a bit late for most of us. As for the mowing, that’s probably just busy work for the folks that don’t really do well with the snow removal piece. And, if the snow removal got done right, there’d be less guardrail replacement needed. Has anybody looked at this? Another troubling issue for me is the money being spent to replace perfectly good Big Green Signs with new Big Green Signs. I’ve asked MDOT about how this is funded, but they’ve not been responsive.

And what about the stupid replacement mile marker signs that display the highway and direction in addition to the mile (or even tenth or two-tenths)? Personally, I think anyone who needs to be reminded what highway they are on, and what direction they are going, as often as every tenth or even two-tenths of a mile doesn’t deserve a driver license in the first place.

There are other issues with the road maintenace situation in Michigan. These include the antiquated county road commision system and competetively bidding trunkline work. That makes a lot of sense. State highways don’t start and stop at the 83 county lines. It’s time to take a holistic approach. Let your State Representative and State Senato know you do not support Gov. Granholm’s proposal to change the state gas tax.

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