Failing to tackle our roads

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Many Michigan residents were taken by surprise last week when the Michigan Senate failed once again to make a plan to deal with our overwhelmingly bad and ever deteriorating roads.

Even as legislators left Lansing to vacation and campaign, there were reports from around the state of local residents taking it upon themselves to fix potholes in their neighborhoods.

We've seen it happen in Emmett Township.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it's time for Michiganders to stand up and be heard.


To put it as straightforward as I can: the Michigan Senate--long controlled by Republicans--is a chamber of cowardice.

Here we are, in a state that virtually gave birth to the automobile, that put the nation on wheels more than a century ago; and we simply refuse to take on the massive task of fixing what are arguably the worst roads and bridges in the United States.

How embarrassing.

The argument goes that Republicans are either too caught up in an anti-tax manifesto, or are too afraid that conservatives in their districts will vote them out if they raise the gas tax by 25-cents a gallon.

Well, assuming their heads are in fact stuck in the sand, I've got news for them. A road tax is one of the few things people would be willing to pay.

Yes. A new poll last month by the Center for Michigan found that 58 percent of us are willing to pay more at the pump to attack what we--not our Senators--but what "we" think is an urgent priority.

Our Senators obviously have a different view. They've gone on vacation.

Not to suggest there are no Republicans trying to get the ball moving. Governor Snyder has been asking for action from almost the day he was elected.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, who's soon to be term-limited out of office, has been trying to lead a charge. But nobody is following.

Richardville hasn't always been on board, but he is now.

"The Detroit three," he said, "have learned to make better cars. People are working harder and smarter. It's time for state legislators to support a commonsense way to build better, longer-lasting roads. It's time to fix the damn roads."

I can sense the growing anger over the lack of action everywhere I go. If it's a given that our elected officials are afraid to tackle the issue, the case can now be made they should be even more afraid to continue ignoring it.

This is the same bunch who so cleverly headed off a minimum wage ballot proposal a couple of weeks ago to keep voters away from the polls in November. And they did it in one day.

It's time for them to show a little courage now and do a little something for people of all income brackets. If they refuse to budge, I can hear the chant of "throw the bums out" beginning to grow.

We need good roads for our own safety. To protect the investments we make in our cars. For more efficient commerce. For the tourists on whom we so heavily rely for our economy. To help attract business. To make us proud of our state and its infrastructure.

If our legislators fail us... it's time to replace them with a new crew who won't.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.