There’s no way to avoid it. In Michigan, spring and summer, always bring detours and orange cones, the calling cards of road construction.
The cycle is as certain as anything. When our state is notorious for poor roads, the annual construction season is inevitable.
It also has another significance this year. The governor and state lawmakers are busy trying to figure out how to generate more money — $1.2 billion a year — to fix the state’s deplorable road system.
The proposed options for raising the revenue will hit motorists in their pocketbooks. Gov. Rick Snyder wants to increase the state’s 19-cent gasoline tax and 15-cent diesel tax to the wholesale equivalent of 33 cents per gallon and raise vehicle registration fees by about 60 percent.
Another option would raise the state sales tax from 6 percent to 8 percent and dedicate almost all the additional money to the roads.
Amid this statewide debate, the St. Clair County Road Commission is preparing an ambitious road construction schedule that promises improvements without the pocketbook pain Lansing is considering.
This year, the road commission has scheduled 23 projects at an estimated cost of $11.8 million. State and federal grant money is primarily funding seven of the projects — returns on a road millage voters approved. Road commission officials pledged to use the additional revenue to secure state and federal grants.
“... We went after as much federal aid as we could,” road commission director Kirk Weston said.
County roads might not become exceptional. After all, this is Michigan. With state and federal aid, county road officials are doing the best they can.
Times Herald, Port Huron