Traverse City Record-Eagle


May 16, 2009

Op-Ed: Mich. infrastructure in 'dire straits"


And if that wasn't sobering enough: The engineers' report also said the state's roads and bridges are in even worse shape, if that is possible. Nearly two of every five miles of Michigan roads are in "poor" condition, something that will be no surprise to drivers. Twenty-eight percent of the state's bridges are seriously deficient.

And not only are the funds not there to do the needed major overhaul of Michigan's crumbling infrastructure, the state isn't even spending enough to slow the decline. Engineering officials said to keep the current system at a maintenance level, the state would have to spend $3 billion a year. That is without including any money to plan and build more modern transportation systems.

Michigan, shockingly, is only spending half that much. Rep. Pam Byrnes (D-Chelsea), the head of the House Transportation Committee, understands how critical this issue is.

"We must have action, and I will lead the charge," she vowed.

Yet it is not certain how the state, facing record budget deficits as far as the eye can see, could pay for the urgently needed improvements.

It is not certain whether the Republican-controlled Senate will agree to support repairs. And Ms. Byrnes is term-limited and will be gone in a year and a half. Fixing this will take much longer.

Resolution in Detroit

What a difference two weeks has made for Dave Bing, the city's new mayor. At the start of this month he was trailing in the polls, before pulling out a come-from-behind victory May 5 over interim Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. Even his victory was seen as just one more step in a long, hard process. That was just to serve till the end of the year. He now faces a primary in August and a general election in November for the full four-year term.

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