The big story for the last few years has and is Michigan roads, are they good, bad, ugly or all three.  There are plenty of politicians and “studies” telling us one thing or another about our roads.

The Michigan Capitol Confidential has reviewed comments made by our politicians and media to determine where the truth may actually be paved.  Michigan Radio recently reported:

“A recent study, that no Michigander needed, confirmed that we have the worst roads in the country.”

Democrat state representative Christine Greig, the House minority leader, recently pointed to a story in the news site MLive which claims Michigan has the worst roads in the country.

What is the source that Michigan Radio and state representative Greig are drawing their conclusions from?

That would be a report released last January by a software company called Lvl5.  Why a software company?  Well they just happen to sell a phone-based app to local governments which they tell us will use driver-generated maps of roads to give high-quality maps that can be used to pinpoint spots needing repair.

Interesting that a media company and politicians will use reports/surveys from companies that stand to make money off of what their reports/surveys find.  Smells a little “tarie” to me.

Let us look at a few, shall we say, independent studies or reports.  The Michigan Capitol Confidential news site article states that the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council, an official organization that tracks the conditions of roads eligible for federal aid found from their latest data:

  • that the percentage of those roads in poor condition increased from 35.14% in 2010-11 to 40.51% in 2017-18
  • But over that same period, the percentage of roads in good condition also increased, going from 18.28% to 21.08%.

A new report recently released by the Reason Foundation’s was their 24th Annual Highway Report which ranked the cost-effectiveness and overall performance of U.S. highways. It used 13 categories four of the categories measure spending:

  1. Capital and Bridge Disbursements
  2. Maintenance Disbursements
  3. Administrative Disbursements
  4. and Total Disbursements.

The remaining nine categories measure performance. Four of the categories measure pavement quality:

  1. Rural Interstate Pavement Condition
  2. Urban Interstate Pavement Condition
  3. Rural Other Principal Arterial Pavement Condition
  4. and Urban Other Principal Arterial Pavement.

One of the categories measures congestion:

  1. Urban Area Congestion.

Four of the categories measure safety:

  1. Structurally Deficient Bridges
  2. Overall Fatality Rate
  3. Rural Fatality Rate
  4. and Urban Fatality Rate.

Many of our roads that Michiganders find bad are local or county roadways but they were not included in their study.  Reason found that the state of Michigan, which has the 30th-largest highway system in the nation interestingly ranked 30th out of all 50 states when it came to the conditions of our roads.  Not the best but certainly far from the worse.

According to the report Michigan actually moved up two places since the year before.  More good news is Michigan had the seventh-lowest rate for fatalities on rural highways.

Here’s how Reason’s study ranked Michigan’s roads with other states on a best-to-worst scale:

  • Rural arterial pavement condition: 19th in the U.S.
  • Urban arterial pavement condition: 34th in the U.S.
  • Rural interstate pavement condition: 34th in the U.S.
  • Urban interstate pavement condition: 42nd in the U.S.

Reason lead author and the foundation’s assistant director of transportation, Baruch Feigenbaum stated:

To improve in the rankings, Michigan needs to improve its urban Interstate pavement condition and urban arterial pavement condition…Michigan is in the bottom 10 for its urban Interstate pavement condition and urban arterial pavement condition.

The Reason Foundation’s 24th Annual Highway Report did find that Michigan’s highways are better than those of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Indiana, but are worse than those of Illinois and Ohio.

According to the Reason Foundations report which state had the best roads that would; be North Dakota’s roadways came out on top for cost-effectiveness and overall performance, while New Jersey won the pothole trophy coming in last-place.

What really matters is where you drive and what you believe the conditions of our roads are, especially compared to other states.  How much more taxpayer dollars do you want to spend and where those tax dollars come from is continually up for debate.

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