Road Repair Costs Are Exploding

Staff | September 28, 2010

Shocking evidence presented to the Michigan State Transportation Commission recently shows that road repair costs are exploding by as much as $3 billion per year because of lack of even basic road maintenance and repairs.

The Michigan Asset Management Council has been tracking the cost of repairing the highway system since 2004. According to their 2007 annual report, the council found it would have cost $3.7 billion to make necessary road and infrastructure repairs in 2004. But, by ignoring these much-needed repairs, that number has exploded to over $6.6 billion in 2007 — a cost increase of $1 billion per year. Since the federal aid system represents roughly one-third of Michigan's road network, the state's entire price tag is rising by as much as $3 billion per year.

"This is your typical case of pay now or pay significantly more later," said Mike Nystrom, vice president of government and public relations for the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA) and co-chair of the Michigan Transportation Team. "By ignoring basic maintenance and repairs, the state is burdening Michigan taxpayers with additional costs of $3 billion per year."

Reconstruction is more costly than regular maintenance, the Michigan Asset Management Council report found. For every $1 spent on maintenance, between $4 and $6 is saved on reconstruction.

"The federal highway system represents about one-third of the overall system," said Nystrom. "So by using simple math, our entire road network in Michigan is losing almost $3 billion in value each year due to lack of proper maintenance."

Michigan has an annual funding shortfall of $700 million for its state transportation system and a shortfall of more than $2 billion for local roads. This funding pothole is due to massive cuts to the state's road and bridge program because of declining gas tax revenues. This year alone, the state's road and bridge program dropped by $300 million, or 18 percent.

The Michigan Asset Management Council was created by the legislature as a result of the Transportation Funding Study Committee Report of 2000. Since then, the council has been tracking road conditions on the entire federal highway system.