by Scott McClallen
An EPIC-MRA poll shows that 93% of likely Michigan voters rated state roads as a “total negative,” with 65% rating them “poor.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ran and won her campaign in 2018 by promising to “fix the damn roads.” In the poll conducted between May 11-17 of 600 likely November voters, the results showed:
- 32% said infrastructure is the top Michigan problem.
- 66% said all aspects of infrastructure are important, with roads next at 16%.
- 35% favor raising taxes/fees to fund upgrades.
- 36% favor program cuts.
- With more vehicles not paying gasoline tax, 32% favor taxes & fees, 25% favor toll roads, and 13% favor fees based on miles traveled/emissions tests.
Every demographic cited road repair as a priority.
Rob Coppersmith, executive vice president of the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association, called on Michigan lawmakers to enact a long-term infrastructure plan.
“Even more, two-thirds of Michigan voters said that fixing all types of infrastructure – roads, bridges, dams and underground infrastructure – are equally important,” Coppersmith said in a statement.” The results speak for themselves – Michiganders are fed up with crumbling roads, failing dams, and broken underground infrastructure that leads to flooded roads and basements.”
Michigan is fixing some roads, but the state has 120,256 miles of paved roadway.
Trunkline roads represent about 10% of lane miles but carry over half of traffic, including around 70% of truck traffic. Local government owns all other roads, split between counties, cities, and villages.
Whitmer is bonding for over $3.5 billion to finance fixing trunkline roads, destroyed by Michigan weather, heavy traffic, and salt.
In 2022, Whitmer and the GOP agreed to spend $316 million on road and bridge repair – or 6.6% of the $4.8 billion spending plan.
“The results of this poll show the continued need for a long-term, sustainable infrastructure plan from Michigan’s leaders,” Coppersmith said. “Study after study shows that Michigan’s infrastructure will continue to worsen if we don’t make the needed investments now. I hope Michigan’s leaders will see these results and come together to do what’s needed and pass a long-term infrastructure plan that will put Michigan on the right track.”
James Hohman, director of fiscal policy at the free-market Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said despite promising to fix the roads, Whitmer hasn’t prioritized road spending.
For example, in 2019, Whitmer vetoed $375 million in road funding because it flowed from general fund money instead of a tax hike.
Whitmer failed in her push for a 45-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase, which she claimed would raise an estimated $2.5 billion. Hohman noted state revenues have grown much more than $2.5 billion during Whitmer’s term.
A Michigan GOP budget plan aims to spend a record $6.8 billion on the Michigan Department of Transportation, including a one-time investment of $750 million for local roads.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org.
Photo “Car vs Pot Hole” by State Farm Insurance CC2.0.