This is the Executive Summary summarizing the final report entitled “Michigan’s Roads Crisis: What Will It Cost to Maintain Our Roads?” completed by a Work Group from within the House Transportation Committee, comprised of Representative Roy Schmidt and myself. A complete copy of the report is available at the http://repolson.com website (link at the bottom of the page).
Many of Michigan’s roads and bridges are in bad shape, with crumbling bridges and potholed roads all too familiar to most Michigan’s motorists. The simple truth is, unless additional funding is available to maintain our roads, they are projected to get much worse. Part of the problem is that transportation revenues have been declining due to the heavy reliance on the gas tax.
The Transportation Funding Task Force (TF2) reported in 2008 that Michigan needed $3 billion more revenue per year to achieve a “good” condition. This report contains the results of a rigorous attempt to disprove or verify the TF2 report’s findings regarding the maintenance of the state’s roads and bridges, i.e., pavement preservation. This report does not include any additional money for new or widened roads to improve capacity, relieve congestion or to improve safety, all of which were included in the TF2 recommendation. The report also does not consider any transit issues.
Of the key questions developed by a work group appointed from among the House Transportation Committee members, this report focuses only on the question of “How much money do we need?”
A technical analysis team tackled the question using computerized models, made possible by road condition data recently gathered by the Asset Management Council. The models used an asset management strategy of applying the right fix at the right place at the right time (among the choices of capital preventive maintenance, rehabilitation or reconstruction) which minimizes the cost of maintaining the asset value of the road system by performing the lower cost preventive maintenance rather than allowing the roads to deteriorate to the point of needing a higher cost fix.
We divided the state’s paved roads into four categories and set the following quality goals:
· State trunkline freeways: 95% good or fair
· Remainder of the state trunkline highways: 85%
· Remainder of the federal-aid roads: 85%
· Non-federal aid roads that are paved: 85%
The amount of work that the model assumed could be done in some road segments and in some years was limited by the maximum percentage of roads that could be worked on without causing excessive congestion caused by road construction.
The model projected that almost $1.4 billion dollars more revenue per year would be needed in 2012-2015 and rising to almost $2.6 billion per year by 2023 to achieve the goals set. This result is consistent with the TF2 findings regarding pavement preservation. The graphs included in the report show that this would not result in a “gold plated” road system, as many of the roads in fair condition would be just that - fair- and not good.
The conclusion reached was that if the investments projected by these models are not done, either the deferred costs of maintaining our roads will be much higher OR we choose to accept lower quality roads. From a business perspective, the set of investments recommended is the lowest long-term costs of maintaining our roads.