Bigger budgets would mean better roads in Clinton County

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Cracked road at the corner of Lansing Street and Short Street, St. Johns. Photo by Rachel Bidock

Cracked road at the corner of Lansing Street and Short Street, St. Johns. Photo by Rachel Bidock

By Rachel Bidock
Clinton County Chatter Staff Reporter

Roads around Clinton County are beginning to thaw as the winter season fades away, and so the reappearance of cracks, potholes and the struggle to find the money to fix them returns.

Clinton County resident Beth Klein is unhappy with the conditions of the roads, and believes more funding should be available to fix them.

“I think they could use improvement they are pretty busted up,” Klein said. “As far as the road repair…I think that is more dependent on state funding and actually repairing rather than patching.”

Although residents may be frustrated, it is more complicated than going out and simply repairing entire roads, explains Dan Armentrout the director of engineering at the Clinton County Road Commission. Not all fixes can be universally used on any type of road.

“You choose the fix based on the road condition, it is not a one-size-fix-all kind of approach,” Armentrout said. “When it comes to budgeting for roads, different classifications of roads have different funding, the major primary roads have more funding options than your typical local road.”

The CCRC has a number of miles of road they must cover with the limited amount of money they have.

“Under our jurisdiction we have about 1,200 miles of road and that includes about 600 miles of gravel roads,” Joe Pulver the managing director at the CCRC said. “It is what can you do to repair the roads with the money you have got.”

Budgeting is a one of the hurdles faced when trying to maintain better roads, Professor Zeenat Kotval-Karamchandani at the School of Planning, Design and Construction at Michigan State University explained.

“We, in Michigan, suffer from poor road budgets, nothing can help more than having a sufficient budget,” Kotval-Karamchandani said in an email.

Finding the money to sustain a better budget is not simple.

“The issue of how to pay for fixing the roads is the biggest stumbling block, and it’s largely an issue of who will have the biggest burden of paying,” Dr. Laura Reese a professor of Political Science at MSU said in an email. “Increasing everyone’s taxes across the board would be the most fair…but is not popular.”

According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, in November 2015 the Michigan Legislature approved funding for a $1.2 billion legislative transportation revenue package which will phase in over the next five fiscal years.

“For this calendar year, they did appropriate $400 million out of the general fund towards the roads,” Pulver said. “That trickled down to us about a million-dollar increase in our budget.”

Some residents are staying optimistic, and believe that the CCRC is doing a better job than some surrounding counties.

Broken street on the corner of Church Street and Sickels in St. Johns. Photo by Rachel Bidock

Broken street on the corner of Church Street and Sickels in St. Johns. Photo by Rachel Bidock

“I feel like there are definitely areas that need improvement, but overall I think they (roads) are better than other areas,” Kristina Brown a Clinton County resident said.

The increase in money flow has the CCRC excited to make those improvements.

“We are anxiously awaiting to get additional funding that the legislature has set up for us and hopefully we can focus on some decent repairs over the next several years,” Armentrout said.