Is this the future for local road funding?

By Jim Hegarty, PE

I drive nearly 30,000 miles every year for my job, so I’ve gotten to see a lot of Michigan. Whenever I stop for gas or an iced tea, I like to scan the newspaper headlines to see what’s going on locally. Last week, I happened upon the Williamston Enterprise with the headline “Williamston will seek 4-mill road millage.

Based on the results we’re seeing in State and Federal roads funding, it’s no wonder Williamston is taking its roads’ fate into its own hands. And they are not alone. In May, Grand Rapids voters chose, by a 2 to 1 margin, to extend a previous income tax increase to fix roads. The City of Norton Shores in Muskegon County initiated a 20-year, 1.5 mill streets millage in 2008 that generates nearly $1,500,000 annually for street projects. The City of Grand Haven just passed its second infrastructure millage since 2007 by a 2 to 1 vote count, this time raising almost $7.2 million for infrastructure projects.

The City of Whitehall, a long-time P&N client, adopted a 3-mill perpetual roads millage after we presented their Transportation Asset Management Plan a few years ago. Whitehall’s millage generates $85,000 to fix its roads.

One thing each of these cities have in common is progressive thinking. And better-than-average roads. If your roads are crumbling, why wait for someone else to fix them for you? You may be waiting a long time, while your roads get worse. Using the principles of pavement asset management, you can optimize the use of your scarce road funds.

It’s becoming clear to me that communities need to take charge of their own roads, because nobody else will. If you’d like to learn more about pavement asset management and how it can help you, contact me.

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