As the 2015 construction season draws to a close, Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) has optimized its available financial resources to complete 219.29 lane miles of improvements. Despite the amount accomplished, a long list of needed improvements remains. The longer it takes to provide these improvements, the more complex –and thus costlier – they will become.
Earlier this month, KCRC Managing Director Steve Warren wrote to State legislators to reiterate the importance of a substantial, and sustained, increase to transportation funding to stifle, and begin to reverse, a decade-long trend of decline.
“These roads did not deteriorate overnight,” wrote Warren, “and it will take a significant funding resolution to restore them. Supplemental State appropriations have assisted us with efforts to curb deterioration, and we appreciate the funding provided; however, that level of additional funding is not sufficient.”
The cost of constructing and maintaining roads has increased substantially since 2004, significantly outpacing KCRC’s revenue from the Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF). Rising contractual costs have combined with increases in the cost of equipment, fuel and materials. In addition, the declining condition of roads has equated to an increased amount of prep work needed to ready the roads for treatment.
Without a substantial and sustained increase in funding, KCRC roads are projected to decline from 35% currently rated in poor condition to more than 50% rated “poor” by 2024.
“With a $21 million annual increase (approximately $1.2 billion statewide) KCRC could finally reverse this trend of deterioration and restore the condition of our roads,” Warren wrote. “Within 10-15 years, the investment would translate to nearly 90% of our roads being rated in good or fair condition.”