Here is a novel thought, does Michigan have too many roads?  I must admit I have never looked at it that way but we as drivers never really do see the big picture when it comes to the number or road miles in our state.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey told the Detroit Free Press last weekend:

We've got too many roads…"we have way more roads per capita than most states do

Senate Majority leader Shirkey said the number of lane miles in the state of Michigan has grown significantly since 1980.  In fact he stated that the lane miles have grown much faster than the state’s population.

The problem seems to stem from the fact that the cities and townships in suburban areas created new paved roads or made gravel roads into paved roads with no viable plan to actually pay for the maintenance and up keep of the roads.

According to data from the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council in 2017, Michigan had about 253,000 lane-miles of state and local roads.  Problem is there appears to be no readily available comparable data from the year 1980 but Senator Shirkey said the number has roughly doubled since then.

So what do we do about it?  Do we close some roads or allow them to turn back to gravel roads, Senator Shirkey R-Clarklake said:

I wouldn’t be afraid of it…but it’s not an easy conversation…maybe some roads need to be allowed to go back to gravel, for instance.

Apparently some have already gone back to gravel the spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation, Jeff Cranson pointed to a 2015 U-M survey of local officials that found that 12% of those local officials said they had returned to gravel at least one paved road they could no longer afford to maintain.  Jeff Cranson then stated:

The Senate majority leader has raised some legitimate concerns about subdivisions in suburbs and exurbs creating unfunded liabilities because of the cost of infrastructure, including the local roads

By the way when it comes to finding new taxpayer spending for the roads just 2 years after they raised our state gas tax 38% per gallon Senate Majority leader Shirkey said:

I’m insisting that we re-prioritize spending first, re-evaluate our cash flow second, and only if those two don’t produce enough do we even begin to talk about revenue

We will see if that is true.  To the point of this column do you believe we should look at returning roads back to gravel and spend the precious taxpayer dollars we do spend on more traveled and critical roads?

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