Why do A2 roads stink?
Some handy-dandy excuses
By Lynn Monson
Have you ever been asked by an out-of-state visitor, “So, what’s up with the roads around here?” With these factoids, you’ll never again be stuck for an answer.
We’re cheap: For the past several years, Michigan has been last or almost last in the nation in state money spent per capita on roads. The most recent Census numbers, for 2011, show Michigan spent $135 per person, dead last. That compares to $234 in Ohio, $288 in Indiana, $321 in Wisconsin and $336 in Illinois. The amount in the Michigan Transportation Fund, a combination of gas taxes and vehicle registrations that’s doled out to cities and counties, dropped by nearly 10 percent from 2004 to 2013, leaving the state with $199 million less to spend in 2013 than in 2004.
Nice low taxes: Michigan’s gas tax has been fixed at 19 cents a gallon since 1997, while costs of road construction, particularly petroleum-based asphalt, have risen. If Michigan tied its gas tax to inflation, as some states do, the gas tax would be 27 cents. Michigan’s 19-cent gas tax compares to 30 cents in Wisconsin, 28.5 in Minnesota, 28 in Ohio, 21 in Iowa, 19 in Illinois and 18 in Indiana. (The state of Washington leads nationally at 37.50 cents.)
People don’t pump enough gas: Other factors that keep the Transportation Fund from keeping up with road-fix demands: people drive less because of higher gasoline prices over the past decade; cars are more fuel efficient; and the growth of electric cars reduces demand for gasoline.
Stupid education: Some of the taxes that drive up the cost of gasoline in Michigan don’t go to roads at all. The 6 percent sales tax on gasoline raises about $1 billion a year, mostly for education and local revenue sharing. Some suggest that at least some of that money should be dedicated to roads.
Curse you, E-ZPass: Other nearby states – Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, among them – have toll roads that raise revenue beyond their gas tax collections.
Stupid education, again: Ann Arbor streets have considerably more wear and tear than other comparably sized cities because tens of thousands of people descend on the city every day to work at, visit or attend the University of Michigan.
Winter, duh: Michigan is in the deep- freeze part of the country, so the annual freeze-thaw cycle plays more havoc with roads here than in states whose annual climate is more temperate.
you gone, Tom Hayden?