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Posted: 04/30/14

Tri-county leaders:
More road funding needed

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      Macomb County leaders are continuing their plea to state lawmakers that additional road funding is required.
       Government representatives from the tri-county area met at the Macomb County COMTEC center on April 17 to unify their voices in asking for funding to properly maintain Michigan roads.
       This year's record-breaking winter magnified the problem of Michigan's crumbling roads, with road crews working to patch potholes on nearly every road.
       "This has been the worst winter I have ever seen," said Bob Hoepfner, Macomb County Department of Roads director. "We've been able to keep the roads safe, but we haven't made any permanent repairs to them."
       Hoepfner said Macomb County alone would need hundreds of millions of dollars to repair all of its roads, an effort that would take about 10 years to complete.
       "What they've done up to now we're very happy to receive the funds, but they're certainly nowhere near enough to do what needs to be done," he said.
       Michigan lawmakers passed a supplementary budget on March 12 to use $115 million on shovel-ready projects and $100 million to relieve road departments with their stressed budgets.
       County Executive Mark Hackel said, though, that it isn't enough, as it only helped patch up the county's depleted budgets for road maintenance.
       "Funding in this state for roads is worse than any other state in the country," he said. "This has been brought up and talked about for years, and they (state legislators) have been sidestepping their responsibility to come up with funding."
       Road departments receive funding through gas and diesel taxes and registration for vehicles. Hackel said efforts like the April 17 meeting have made the public more aware of the state's road funding issues, saying more permanent solutions are required.
       "The governor is pushing for $1.5 to $2 billion, which I understand it's about $1.8 billion that is needed annually," he said.
       Macomb County officials were joined by others from Oakland and Wayne counties, such as Craig Bryson, public information officer for the Road Commission for Oakland County.
       "Now it's time for the state legislature to address the revenue side," he said.


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