Accelerated meetings center on building Michigan’s infrastructure

June 6, 2019

Rep. Jack O’Malley

Accelerated meetings center on building Michigan’s infrastructure

By state Rep. Jack O’Malley

LANSING — For six weeks, the House Transportation Committee set out on a mission to thoroughly examine how roads are built so we can deliver a better value for Michigan taxpayers. 

We doubled our meetings per week to ask the tough questions that residents need answered to help tackle the state’s road repair issue.  These very productive meetings have concluded. Here are some of the more important findings: 

We can’t fix all of our roads overnight, regardless of available revenue. It will take time.

  • The size of Michigan’s road workforce is limited and can’t tackle all the repair projects at once. We must have open communication with the Michigan Department of Transportation and local road officials to find additional qualified individuals to help get the job done.           
  • Michigan’s weather makes it more expensive and difficult to maintain roads. With freeze-thaw and lake effect snow, roads have to be built differently than in neighboring states, and precautions must be taken to prevent water from seeping into the road. Frost-freeze is an enemy which can destroy a road base. When the base is compromised no patchwork fix will last. 
  • We must continue to use already available resources to build better roads without burdening Michigan drivers with extra costs.  Continuing to implement the 2015 roads plan, which put extra money into the transportation budget, will help taxpayers get the better roads they deserve. But we must ask the fundamental question, is it the state’s responsibility to pay for every road repair? We must provide more options for locals to raise money for roads and every additional dollar raised for roads must go to roads.

Michigan has the innovative technology to build better and safer roads. Keeping up-to-date with technology can reduce costs of materials and labor, and help us fund roads efficiently and affordably. From drone usage to new and creative ideas to build better concrete and asphalt, there is a magnitude of technological advancements.  Drones specifically can help roads officials inspect cracks in roadways, bridges and confined spaces such as culverts without risking the safety of construction workers. There have also been studies showing plastic and rubber can be used to build more durable roads.

Now that these meetings have concluded, I look forward to developing legislation to help state and local transportation officials fix our roads more efficiently and effectively.  We must find new and creative ideas to continue building Michigan’s infrastructure.

Jack O’Malley, R-Lake Ann, represents the 101st House of Representatives district, which includes Mason, Manistee, Benzie, and Leelanau counties. O’Malley is also chair of the House Transportation Committee.

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