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Would gravel roads fix funding problem?

Posted at 6:40 PM, Sep 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-23 20:17:23-04

LANSING, Mich. — As we draw closer the possibility of a partial government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey of Jackson has another idea to fix the roads.

He told reporters Michigan has too many roads.

He suggested closing some roads and turning others into gravel roads.

"The most important question is what is it going to take to get the Republicans back to the table so that we have a long term roads funding plan so that the roads don't turn to gravel all on their own?" said House Democratic Leader Christine Greig.

Senate Leader Shirkey was not available for comment Monday.

"I think there's value in the taxpayers dollars in looking at each and every road and including the locals in on the conversation to ensure that those that are living in the community have input, but all options need to be on the table," said Rep. Julie Alexander, (R), Jackson.

Lansing's Public Service Director Andy Kilpatrick says it's something the city has thought about before.

Lansing has more than 5 miles of gravel roads.

The idea didn't go anywhere because, he says, it would take a lot of changes to see any savings.

"If we decided that we were going to make a change to more gravel roads, we would have to change how we are maintaining roads currently because we're now set up to kind of keep the pavement there. So if we did make that switch, we'd change our operations and then there might be some savings, but the way we're set up currently, there would not be significant savings," said Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick also says gravel roads could damage the city's storm water system.

"If you have a ditch line, then you don't really need to worry about gravel going into the ditch line as much as you do into storm sewer pipes. That could create an issue and clog them up and create more maintenance over time," he said.

A spokesperson with Governor Gretchen Whitmer's office said in a statement, "Our state has the worst roads in the country, and Michigan businesses and drivers are demanding action. The Senate Majority Leader’s statement just proves that the Republican-controlled legislature is totally unserious about fixing the roads, and it demonstrates why Republican leaders dragged their feet for six months on passing the budget. The governor is committed to fixing the roads, but it’s time for Republicans to get serious, start acting like adults, and start working with her to do what’s right for the people of Michigan.”

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