MML Review Magazine May/June 2024

By Kathryn Frens and Maggie Pallone Breaking Down Michigan’s Road Funding Needs $9 billion per year. That’s the estimated cost of rebuilding and maintaining Michigan’s existing road network, according to a 2023 study by Public Sector Consultants (PSC). Frequently described as “crumbling,” Michigan’s roads—83,000 lane-miles of federal-aid highways and about 165,000 of non-federal-aid roads—are funded through a combination of federal, state, and local dollars. Federal-aid highways are roads like the Interstate Highway System (such as I-75), U.S. highways (such as US-23 and US-127), and state highways (such as M-22). Non-federal-aid roads are local streets maintained by counties, cities, or villages. Michigan’s road budget is $4,719,960,000 in fiscal year 2024, which includes an influx of one-time federal and state bond funding that in recent years has helped fix some of the state’s highways. But even those recent injections of funding don’t come close to raising enough money to maintain our road network in good or fair condition. Our research shows that without additional funding, Michiganders can expect to see a steep decline in both available money for road maintenance and in the condition of the roads. The following graph illustrates historic and current funding models and the impact on pavement conditions and demonstrates how additional investments could alter the decline in road conditions.

2021 Federal-Aid Pavement Condition Percent Lane Miles

2021 Non-Federal-Aid Road Condition Percent Lane Miles

20 % POOR

25 % POOR

33 % GOOD

45 % GOOD

35 % FAIR

42 % FAIR

So How Do We Fix the Damn Roads? So, what can be done about it? PSC calculates an annual deficit in road funding of about $3.9 billion through 2026, which comes out to about $535 per Michigan adult per year. Although raising this kind of revenue has been politically difficult, research shows that spending money up front to maintain roads is far cheaper in the long term than allowing roads to deteriorate and then rebuilding them. The following six options, which could be used individually or in combination, could be used to raise revenue for Michigan’s roads.

6 |

| May/June 2024

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