By the Lansing State Journal
---- — The dodging and weaving at the Capitol over Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposals for raising $1.2 billion to improve Michigan’s roads and bridges is disappointing. It’s time for politicians and the Michiganders they represent to accept the fact that people pay for the roads one way or another.
Act now to raise enough revenue to bring the state’s infrastructure to an acceptable level, or act later and be forced to raise even more revenue as even more miles of roads have been allowed to fall into even worse levels of disrepair.
Pay now, through gas taxes and registration fees, or pay now and later through the ever-increasing costs of vehicle repairs brought about by the potholes and ruts that will grace increasingly higher percentages of Michigan roadways going forward.
There’s no question that Michiganders will bear the increased costs of bringing their roads up to par. And one reason those costs are so high now is that lawmakers have steadfastly avoided dealing with this problem for decades. Not since 1997 has the gas tax been raised. Occasional forays into addressing the problems gain some momentum, then invariably stall out as lawmakers refuse to commit to the necessary act of raising the money needed to pay for roads.
The longer Michigan delays, the higher the costs will be. That is a certainty. The prudent course is to act now, without delay, to set things on the right track.
The void is breathtaking.
Yes, there is some room to discuss the mix of revenue sources. What mix from vehicle fees, what mix from taxes and from what sort of taxes.
But while discussing, keep these facts top of mind:
- Michigan’s roads are consistently ranked among the worst in the nation. The share of the state’s roads rated in “poor” condition rose to 35 percent in 2011, up from 10 percent in 2004, according to the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council.
- Poor condition of Michigan roads plays a part in up to one-third of the state’s fatal or serious traffic accidents.
- Substandard roads may cost the average Michigan driver more than $500 a year in repair bills.
At some point all that adds up to a state that doesn’t care about the damage it causes its economy by letting roads crumble. Or about the growing financial burden it places on future generations to fix those roads. It’s time to find some courage and get this done.
Lansing State Journal