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nofunk

Crumbling Overpasses

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Yesterday morning, an expansion joint on Groesbeck crumbled and fell into westbound lanes of I-696. Several cars were damaged, but thankfully no one was injured.

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article.../703210327/1001

My first, probably naiive question is: how is an overpass that was deemed to be in "good" condition just last year crumbling this year?

My second question is: what exactly is the state of Michigan doing wrong? Other states with just as many miles of roads and equally harsh winters do not have the problems Michigan seems to have with keeping infrastructure safe and functional.

EDIT: The two reasons I always hear are (1) the constant freeze-thaw cycle we experience causes roads to break down more than those in other parts of the country and (2) we have no toll roads. However, there are many northern states that experience similar weather patterns, and my understanding has always been that toll roads generally earn just enough revenue to pay for themselves.

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I wish that they'd just do things right the first time.

One argument that I've actually heard pretty often is that the road construction industry employs a lot of people, and that they keep doing this to keep those people employed. I personally think that's not the job of the government.

I think they should just go through, road by road, and redo them really well one by one, so that they don't have to be redone in a long time. Then the money they save in the long run can be spent on mass transit, which, from what I understand, will be even less expensive to maintain in the long run. Considering our history, we should at least have a good road system.

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Nofunk, I'm not sure if I have an answer, but I would like to pose another question for the forum, and that is how many miles of road does Michigan have, and how many bridges, as compared to other states in the Great Lakes? My assumption is that we probably have more roads and bridges, per capita, than most other states in the region. This assumption could be completely wrong, though, and it would not explain, by itself, why our roads are so poor. I mean, just anecdotaly, it's quite obvious just in crossing the state line from Indiana or Ohio how bad our roads are in comparison.

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LMich, that's what I would have assumed too, but it looks like we're both wrong. Here's what I was able to cobble together:

surfacetransittablefs2.jpg

(Got the numbers from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.)

Hopefully this will generate some conversation? :thumbsup:

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Interesting. It looks like this must largely be something institutional, then. Thanks for doing the research.

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Part of the problem is too many Craig DeRoche types were in control for too long. People who think its radical socialsm to put more emphasis on fixing the roads we already have instead of building new ones.

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Nothing infuriates out of state drivers more than the condition of our roads. I hear it all the time from my friends. Additionally, the Detroit area has many roads that are similar to that of a third world nation. They may as well be gravel. I damaged the alignment on my truck after driving over a hole on a seriously damaged overpass bridging I-94. You could see the freeway beneath through the hole.

I don't know, road problems always seem to be a SE Michigan issue.

I miss my Saginaw County roads, where every road is well maintained (AND PAVED!!)

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I almost ran into a pile of concrete that had fallen just moments before from an overpass on the left lane of the I-96 Westbound Express Lanes this morning. I was able to move out of the way, but some other cars weren't so lucky. There was a line of cars stopped on the side of the freeway, including some that appeared to have significant damage from the falling concrete. Yep, we really know how to maintain our roads here in Michigan. :rolleyes:

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This sounds like an epidemic, much like the gravel haulers that tipped several times in a few weeks a couple years back.

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It seems like everything is an epidemic in Michigan these days. I stopped blamming the government a long time ago, as they are simply a representation/manifestation of how much many of us just don't care, anymore.

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I propose a new sales tax. 1 condition- It can only be used to maintain and repave roads, not expand or widen them, and it can be used for new rad construction.

Hows that sound?

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I believe one of the first things Granholm ever was to put out an executive order putting preference on repairing roads against building new ones, so that's already a policy. In fact, I think that's what killed (for the time being) the widening of I-75 through parts of Oakland County. But, something else is obviously needed to supplement that order. But, it seems like we aren't willing to put any extra taxes on anything.

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I think the biggest problem is that Michigan allows the heaviest truck weights in the nation and with so many trucks crisscrossing Metro Detroit and the constant freezing and thawing and the constant "I'm not paying for it" attitudes, the terrible condition of the roads results. I think the easiest thing the state can do is lower the weight limits allowed per axle in the state.

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We'd lose a lot of business. I'd be interested to see how much, to see if something like that is even worth it.

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Actually I'm now wondering if this isn't an allocation problem. The worst roads seem to be concentrated here in SE Michigan. I wonder what conditions are like in Grand Rapids, Flint, Lansing, etc.

Maybe funds for road repairs just aren't allocated to where they're truly needed? I assume that each county gets a certain annual amount based on population? miles of roads? some other arbitrary rubrik?

I'll be honest: I don't pay much attention when I'm driving in other parts of the state. Are roads in rural counties markedly better than those in more urban ones? If so, then maybe the state doesn't dole funds out efficiently. It certainly wouldn't surprise me.

Regarding a sales tax: dtown, are you proposing an increase in Wayne Co, the tri-counties, or the state? Michigan's sales tax is already pretty high; I think there has to be another solution.

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Road conditions vary by county, that includes freeways. So yeah, it could very well be SE Michigan has road issues, although I've seen pretty bad in many cities across Michigan.

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I don't see how Michigan would lose business. Most of the trucks are on there way to Canada, and while they could bypass Michigan and go through New York, it wouldn't make much sense, especially if Michigan's weight limits were the same as New York.

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Regarding a sales tax: dtown, are you proposing an increase in Wayne Co, the tri-counties, or the state? Michigan's sales tax is already pretty high; I think there has to be another solution.

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But, the governor just tried to sell a 2% sales tax increase, and the GOP went ape-you-know-what, and even most Dems weren't happy about it. Selling any tax increase in Michigan, regardless of what it's used for, it going to be a nearly impossible sell. It's really not much about Michigan, either, but how citizens are brought up in this country to believe that they are always excessively taxed whether they really are or aren't.

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Yeah. My friend from Austria told us about their taxes compared to ours, and i was shocked.

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It's really not much about Michigan, either, but how citizens are brought up in this country to believe that they are always excessively taxed whether they really are or aren't.

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In a way, that's less bad than it being tied mostly or solely to neglect and/or poor/ineffective funding system.

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Didn't they use an experimental concrete recently when they repaved I-75 through Detroit only to have hundreds of mega-potholes form forcing them to have the entire stretch repaved? What's wrong with the old concrete?;)

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