Lansing Star Staff Writer
LANSING– It is easy to see the potholes lining Lansing’s roads.
Fixing them is not so easy
“It is a huge pain,” said Renee Jennings, an employee at a Lansing Speedway. “Especially this time of year. Some of these roads are so bad you can’t avoid the potholes – just have to hit them.”
As Michigan changes from snow and ice to sun and spring, potholes become more of a problem. When water freezes in the cracks of the pavement, it expands causing cracks and holes. If not resurfaced, those holes can become a problem – for cars, and for checkbooks.
Roads are deteriorating faster than they can be repaired, according to the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council. The council surveyed nearly all of Michigan’s roads in 2011, and published those reports on its website. The busiest roads are decaying at a rate of $3 million a day–more than $1 billion annually, according to the study.
The council reported that in 2004, resurfacing all Michigan roads to “good” condition (no potholes or major visible blemishes) would have cost $3.68 billion. In 2011, resurfacing the same roads would have cost $11.5 billion.
In 2011, the council rated 293.5 miles of Lansing roads a 5/10, which is the lowest rating for roads in fair condition. Applying low cost repairs, which patches the roads for about 10 years, would have cost $13.2 million. Only 59 percent of those roads were fixed, however, leaving the current cost for the 293.5 miles at an astounding $29.8.
“We’re doing the best we can with the funding we have,” said Dean Johnson, Lansing’s city engineer. “But with continued neglect the condition of our streets keeps declining which makes fixing it that much more expensive.”
Johnson said that more than half of Lansing roads are in “poor condition.” Bringing the road quality up would cost no less than $15 million a year, Johnson said..
“We have a database of the worst roads, and those are our top priority,” said Jane Dykema, assistant city engineer. “Act 51 funds will help with taking care of those.”
Act 51 gives limited funding to the city of Lansing for road maintenance such as salting, plowing and minor rehabilitation for the worst roads. Dykema said that the act is helping, but the gas tax money that the city normally receives is decreasing. A likely cause of the decreased revenue is a shrinking state population and more fuel-efficient vehicles on the roads.
Dykema could not disclose information on the specific plan for re-paving roads this spring. The city of Lansing had three major road construction projects in 2012, which included Washington Avenue, Willow Street, and Willoughby Road.