Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Friday

March 14, 2014

State legislators approve $215 million for roads

TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City resident Ben Trailer is sick of watching workers patch potholes on McRae Hill Road.

Year after year they fill the holes that crop up on the stretch of road west of U.S. 31 South in Garfield Township.

“There’s basically no pavement left. It’s all patches,” Trailer said.

He hopes a road millage that Grand Traverse County residents approved last November will allow the county road commission to reconstruct the road, but costly winter maintenance could cut into real repairs.

A budget bill passed by state legislators could help. They approved $215 million in additional road funds ahead of what local road officials predict could be one of the worst pothole seasons.

The state could release at least $448,000 for additional maintenance to the Grand Traverse County Road Commission, Manager Jim Cook said. The county also could receive additional money for projects.

“We could use some of that money to really go out and fix our roads so we’re not patching potholes,” Cook said.

About $100 million from the state’s general fund will go statewide to help pay for road maintenance after a long, brutal winter. Another $115 million from a fund created by last year’s budget surplus is targeted for priority road projects. The bill awaits Gov. Rick Snyder’s signature.

Road officials across the state are bracing for a bad pothole season. Long periods of cold this winter allowed the ground to freeze 7 to 12 feet deep, Cook said, compared to a usual 3 to 7 feet. As the ground thaws, water becomes trapped between the road and deeper frozen ground instead of seeping in.

“That moisture has nowhere to go. The pavement is basically sitting on a layer of water,” Cook said. “Heavy loads will cause the roads to fluctuate, almost like a water bed, but pavement isn’t designed to flex a lot.”

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