KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A new report released on Tuesday takes aim at Michigan's crumbling roads.
The researchers say extra state and federal funding that's been set aside won't make a dent in tackling the underlying problem.
Newschannel 3's Alex Jokich broke down the report. ( http://www.tripnet.org/docs/MI_Progress_and_Challenges_TRIP_Report_April_2017.pdf )
The report released by TRIP, examines the legislation signed by Governor Snyder in 2015 in relation to the most recent road, traffic and travel statistics.
Governor Snyder's road funding package drove up gas taxes and registration fees and set aside money from the state's general fund in an effort to repair and redesign Michigan's infrastructure.
According to the report, 20-percent of Michigan roads are in poor condition and 11 percent of bridges are structurally deficient.
The report says rough roads have a ripple effect on traffic fatalities, economic growth and tourism.
Discover Kalamazoo President Greg Ayers said, “Road conditions are definitely a topic of conversation amongst the tourism industry.”
Ayers said 2016 was a banner year for travel to Kalamazoo, with a record number of overnight guests at area hotels.
The TRIP report reflects the same tourism boost across the state, showing a 10-percent increase in road travel over the past three years in Michigan.
But Ayers says if we want visitors to return to Michigan attractions, the entire experience needs to be enjoyable, including their travel time.
“The next thing you know it's not that they remember this wonderful trip," Ayers explains, "they remember the auto expense that they had because of something that happened to their car due to poor road conditions.”
The report concludes that new state and federal dollars are helpful, but roads and bridges will continue to worsen at a quicker rate than the planned repairs.
The report also looks at the impact of poor road conditions on traffic deaths.
The researchers estimate roadway features contribute to one-third of fatal crashes.
But Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller says, more often than not, it's the driver, not the road itself, that causes a crash.
Sheriff Fuller explains, “Of the top 15 reasons compiled by the National Safety Council, number one is distracted driving, by far number one. And then number two is speeding. You get down to number 12: potholes.”
While there are projects planned to modernize infrastructure, like the widening of I-94 in Kalamazoo County in 2019 to accommodate increasing traffic, the researchers conclude Michigan has a long road ahead in tackling roadway concerns and additional funding will be necessary.