The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Michigan Roads and Bridges Falling Down

Jul 22, 2019

Everyone in Michigan knows the state has the worst roads and bridges in the country, but recent reports show just how dire the situation is and paint a pretty gloomy picture of the prospects they’ll get fixed any time soon. Wayne County, the county in which Detroit is located, has 58% of its roads in poor condition today, up from 42% just two years ago. Thirty percent of the county’s bridges are in poor condition. Thirty-five bridges in the county are open with reduced weight loads and 10 are closed altogether.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans puts the costs to bring 90% of its roads to fair to good condition at 3 billion dollars over 10 years. The Detroit Free Press estimates it would take 406 million dollars to replace its bad bridges, while it sets aside only 10 million dollars a year.

Wayne County is not alone by any means. One neighboring county, Macomb, would need to spend 2.3 billion dollars to fix its crumbling roads and bridges. Macomb County has 12% of its bridges in poor condition, while another adjacent county, Oakland, has 23% of its bridges rated as poor.

The rotten roads and bridges not only cost drivers a great deal in car repairs every year, they’re downright dangerous. A tour of bridges along I-94 through the heart of Detroit shows many of them held together with nothing but sheets of plywood on the underside of the bridges that road crews have put there to prevent chunks of concrete from falling on cars below.

Meanwhile, the governor and legislators in Lansing are debating at least four different proposals to fix the roads. Who knows when and how that will get settled? In all likelihood, the outcome will likely result in the working class being asked to foot the bill.