A warmer, wetter Michigan might be making potholes worse

BY RILEY MURDOCK
Capital News Service
LANSING – This spring’s “breakup” of Michigan roads has been the worst Kirk Steudle has seen in his 31 years with the Michigan Department of Transportation. “The winter we just had was one of the most brutal that we’ve had” for weather that causes crumbling pavement and potholes, said Steudle, the department’s director. He has seen colder winters, ones with more snow. But when the weather stays cold, it isn’t as bad on the roads as this one was. “There was a week when it wasn’t above 10 degrees, then the next week it was 60,” Steudle said.

Some highway maintenance done by private firms

By CRYSTAL CHEN
Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan’s roads are rated D- this year by the newest American Society of Civil Engineers Infrastructure Report Card. That’s drawing attention to the fact that state and local transportation agencies are contracting with private firms for road maintenance rather than relying solely on public workers. The report card rates 39 percent of Michigan’s 120,000 miles of paved roadways in poor condition, 43 percent in fair condition and only 18 percent in good condition. Road maintenance always has a funding shortage, and contracting out road maintenance to private companies could provide “a more cost-effective value for taxpayers,” said Mark Christensen, the superintendent and manager of the Montcalm County Road Commission. Road maintenance has to be a public-private partnership, Christensen said.

Harsh potholes continue to give residents of Ingham County problems

Austin Faulds was driving through Ingham County recently, where he saw the front tires of two different cars completely fly off. The reason for these motorists misfortune? The result of hitting a pothole. Faulds is a manager and delivery driver at Pita Pit in East Lansing, and is among several Ingham County residents who are tired of dealing with the poor road conditions. Jabreel Naser, an employee of a gas station in Ingham County, has encountered several instances where people have voiced their irritation with the roads.

Drink up? Depends on where you live

By BAILEY LASKE
Capital News Service
LANSING – If you’re thinking of moving in Michigan and worry about water quality, finding the perfect area might be harder than you think. Because of  a wide variety of contaminants, pinpointing one area that has the cleanest drinking water or the worst drinking water isn’t an easy task.  
“It’s hard to say where the most issues are. There are different issues in different communities around the state,” said Sean McBrearty, a program organizer at Clean Water Action, an advocacy group.. Lead receives the most headlines but Michigan’s main drinking water contaminants include arsenic, nitrate, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and lead.

Flooding affects West Grand River Avenue, other parts of Ingham County

OKEMOS – on February 22, many roads in Ingham County were blocked by flooding. Because of snow and the heavy rain, there was a lot of water on the Grand River Avenue, and parts of that road and other roads were blocked off. The police erected a stop sign before the water, but many people still drove through the flood road. Some vehicles were trapped in the flood, and drivers was unable to continue the vehicle. Harvey Leroy is an police officer of Meridian Township.

Meridian Township sees higher rates of car-deer accidents than other Ingham County townships

OKEMOS — In the last several years, statistics from Michigan Traffic Crash Facts show Meridian Township in Ingham County has seen nearly double the number of car-deer accidents than the next highest number of accidents by township. Meridian Township implemented a deer management program that began in 2011, according to their website, and officials have seen a decrease in the number of accidents. Kelsey Dillon, a park naturalist for the Meridian Township Parks and Recreation Department, says they keep records of car accidents involving deer because of their deer management program. “We actually monitor car accident reports very closely and we work with our police department to … get that information, and over the last …

MDOT proposal receives mixed reviews from Bath Township

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) presented a plan during the Bath Township Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 20 to reconstruct the intersection on Business Loop I-69 and Marsh Road, aiming to make it safer and more efficient. The state-funded plan is to transform the current intersection into a J-turn format, with a pedestrian crossing to allow for non-motorized access through the intersection, which would restrict northbound vehicle traffic up Marsh Road short of the neighborhood past the intersection. It also has federal funding from the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program to help reduce traffic build-up and improve air quality with less idling at the stop lights. However, the plan has been met with mixed reviews from township residents and board members.

More road money a start but not enough

By MAXWELL EVANS
Capital News Service
LANSING — Officials statewide are touting plans to increase state road funding as badly needed — although insufficient — help. Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget recommendation for 2019 suggested a $175 million increase for road maintenance, and lawmakers are moving quickly in hopes of getting the money in place for the 2018 construction season. State and county road maintenance budgets would each get a 39 percent share of the new state money with the remaining 22 percent allocated for municipalities. About $15 million of the state’s share would be used for technology updates, like hydrogen fueling stations. This could bring relief to local governments that have seen their road conditions deteriorate through a winter of rapid weather shifts.

Train fact: more pedestrians hit outside of from crossings

By RILEY MURDOCK
Capital News Service
LANSING — The number of pedestrian deaths involving railroads is rising. Trains killed or injured 19 trespassers in Michigan last year, though the number of vehicle-train accidents fell. Deaths on segments of a railway other than a designated crossing–known as “trespassing”–accounted for 63 percent of rail-related fatalities in the United States between 2005 and 2016, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service. More than twice as many deaths came from trespassing than from incidents at crossings. Neither the cumulative death toll nor individual incidents from trespassing draw the level of public attention that other train-related deaths do, such as the December 2017 derailment of an Amtrak train that killed three and injured dozens south of Tacoma, Washington.