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State's other problems may prevent fixing roads

Posted at 11:29 PM, Mar 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 14:16:09-05

For years drivers have been complaining about terrible road conditions.

Our lawmakers promised to fix it, but now badly needed state funding that was already approved may not be coming.

For the past several years, Michigan’s crumbling roads have outraged drivers and the complaints still haven't stopped.

The road-funding problem goes back decades.

Just last year, we traveled all across metro Detroit with a symbolic orange barrel, then upgraded to a billboard with signed messages to lawmakers. We even delivered it to Lansing.

Finally, we took to a military style Hummer - tough enough for super sized potholes - as we handed out gift cards to people stranded with flat tires.

The groundswell of support for our stories eventually helped lead to $1.2 billion in state funding to fix the roads.

The only catch, the money isn't coming till early 2017.

Meantime, the Flint water crisis and breakdown of Detroit Public Schools are posing more immediate issues.

To be exact, $600 million we were promised by state leaders to fix roads may not come as a result of other government failures.

In Oakland County, we took the orange barrel to visit road commission spokesman Craig Bryson, who explains how bad things have gotten.

Bryson says they'll still be doing various resurfacing and repair jobs, but could only see about $15 million this year coming from higher gas taxes and registration fees.

Investigating further, we found the top roads guy for Wayne County.

Out of 700 miles of road in Wayne County, this April existing dollars will be used to fix the area near Sibley and Allen in Brownstown Township.

Also Cherry Hill in Westland and Garden City will be redone. And don't forget the giant road sinkhole at Tireman and Greenfield in Detroit that opened up just last week.

On a ride along with Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, the picture isn't any better.

Hall Road at Mound in Macomb County - a major stretch needing to be repaired. Also at 19 & Hayes, there are more trouble spots.

Hackel says 1/3 of the roads need to be addressed - beyond basic patching.

There's another harsh reality, one that drivers can see and feel with every bump. The sinking feeling our roads will ultimately take a back seat to what have become bigger issues.