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County Road Agencies Report Back on Progress with 2015 Transportation Package

LANSING, MI — Two years after receiving the first new state road funds in 20 years, Michigan county road agencies have reported back on how they invested the new revenue in roads and bridges and township matching funds for road projects.

Denise Donohue, County Road Association (CRA) of Michigan Director, and Ed Noyola, CRA Deputy Director, reported to the Michigan Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation that 88 percent of the new funding received so far by county road agencies has been used to improve roads, bridges and rights-of-way.

“This survey confirms that the new dollars are going exactly where the Legislature and the public want them to go: On the road system,” Donohue said. “With half of the $1.2-billion package received at the close of the state’s fiscal 2018, road agencies report improving nearly 4,100 miles of local roads annually.”

County road agencies received their first new fuel tax and vehicle registration fees from the $1.2-billion package in late February 2017, reflecting a partial year of increased funding. Fiscal 2018 brought a full year of fuel tax and vehicle registration fees, which reached approximately $600 million plus legislative supplemental budget revenue.

In its 2018 membership survey, CRA found that: 79 percent of the new revenue went toward improving roads and road rights-of-way; 9 percent went toward improving bridges; 5 percent went toward equipment needed for road projects; 3 percent went to shore up unfunded liabilities as mandated by the state; 1 percent each went to facility improvements and staff; and 2 percent went to “other”.

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County road agencies also report increasing their match of township dollars, whether a stipend of matching-funds-policy is followed.

According to the Transportation Asset Management Council, in 2017 48 percent of Michigan’s federal-aid-eligible county roads were in poor condition. Local roads that do not qualify for federal aid are usually in worse shape. County road agencies oversee 90,000 miles of roads, which represents about 75 percent of the roads in Michigan — and comprise the fourth-largest local road network in the U.S.

“County road agencies are currently conducting our own county road investment plan. …” Noyola said. “We anticipate our report will be completed by summer, and it will be the first time in 35 years that Michigan has looked at the cost to maintain and improve the county-operated road network in a comprehensive manner.”

Another milestone in CRA’s report covered the Local Pavement Warranty Program, which has been adopted for all 83 county road agencies and 521 municipalities in Michigan. It was part of the 2015 Transportation Package; CRA reported to the Senate Subcommittee that this project is now complete. It requires every local road agency to consider adding a warranty to any road project with more than $2 million in pavement-related items, and it sets out the conditions for warranting asphalt and concrete.

 “While warranties won’t make sense on every road project, the fact that every Michigan local road owner will now utilize a standardized warranty is probably a first in the U.S.,” Donohue said.  “We look forward to reporting more good results and accomplishments next year, regarding the second phase of the new 2015 road funding.”

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