How Much Are Good Roads Worth?

There is no doubt that over half of American’s are operating on an extremely tight budget.  Like most of you, I have very little room for any additional expenses. Everything is costing more and our available funds only go so far.

With that in mind, I was reading a news report from Michigan where Governor Rick Snyder feels it is necessary for motorists to pay more, whether in taxes or license fees to help pay for needed road repair and maintenance.  Studies of roads in Michigan indicate a need for nearly $3 billion per year just for road maintenance and improvements.  The governor says they need to find a way to raise an additional $1 billion to $1.4 billion annually to meet the projected figure.

The latest census figures say that there are about 10 million people in Michigan which means the additional revenue would be about $140 for every man, woman and child in the state per year.  For an average family of 4, that’s $580 per year.  Considering Michigan has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation at 11.1%, $580 a year for most families is going to put them over the brink of what they can afford.

Michigan is not the only state facing such problems.  Virtually every state in the country is desperate for ways to raise revenues to pay for roads.  Many states in the west are finding it more difficult to manage road repair and maintenance as they are so much larger than most of the eastern states, meaning more interstate miles to maintain.  To add to the problem is that many of these western states have some of the lowest populations meaning more miles per capita to maintain.

As much as I hate to face the possibility of paying more taxes or registration fees, I also admit that I hate driving on roads full of potholes and cracks.  I’ve driven some major roadways that were so rough that jarred your insides loose.  One such road  was I-40 going through Oklahoma City.  I drove a rental truck through there a few years ago and the seams in the road were so bad that I hurt for days from the bouncing.

Sometime soon, American’s are going to have to decide on how good of a road they want to drive on and how much they can afford to have those roads.  It’s an ugly choice that I hate to face, but face it we must.