Photo via Hamtramck Guerilla Road Repair Neighbors band together to fix Hamtramck road. "> clock menu more-arrow no yes

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Fixing Michigan's Roads: Get a Shovel and DIY?

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<span class="credit">Photo via <a href=“http://www.gofundme.com/8r4m7ukx4m”>Hamtramck Guerilla Road Repair</a> </span>
Neighbors band together to fix Hamtramck road.
Photo via Hamtramck Guerilla Road Repair Neighbors band together to fix Hamtramck road.


If you ever lost a whole steel wheel to one of metro Detroit's many epic potholes, looked at the Internet or listened to the radio at all in the last couple of years, plans to fix the broken streets will no doubt seem like sweet, car-saving relief. Today, the state lawmakers approved legislation that would help Detroit collect taxes from city residents who work in the suburbs. That's one idea, but we thought we'd take a look at some of the schemes, dreams and plans and let our readers weigh in.


1. Hike the gas tax by 15 cents

Michigan's gas tax currently stands at 19 cents a gallon. Given the recent rise in fuel prices, nearly doubling that tax to 34 cents a gallon may be a hard sell. At that rate, Michigan would go from having a fairly standard tax rate, to having one of the highest in the country, according to 2015 fuel maps.

2. Tasty, menthol-scented cigarette money

One idea in highway legislation introduced in May (from House Bill 4607, if you're keeping score at home), is to divert $75 million from the state' tobacco settlement to the Michigan Transportation Fund. While this seems like a fix, it only supplies about half the money legislators and experts agree is necessary to fix the state's roads, and it's not an infinite or ongoing source of funding. Not to mention that the state will still need to address the social and economic costs of smoking, a delightful/disgusting habit still enjoyed by one in five Michiganders.

3. Let's Divert Funds from the Indian Gaming Compact

House Bill 4608 would move $60 million from Indian Gaming Compact into the Michigan Transportation Fund. The funds would be allocated primarily to state highway maintenance (39.1%) and country roads (39.1%) with the remaining 21.8% going to cities and villages. Again, the number agreed on for really fixing the roads is nearly triple this allocation.

4. Fun Weekend DIY Project(s)

Hamtramck residents gave up on government and did it themselves. In July and August, after a GoFundMe campaign raised over $4400 for repairs, a crew of 35, members and supporters of Hamtramck Guerrilla Road Repair, took to the street with tampers and bags of cold patch to fix their own streets. While this was effective—something we can attest to, given that Curbed's unofficial Detroit HQ is in Hamtramck—there's something problematic about citizens having such a profound (if honestly come by) lack of faith in government's ability to fix anything.

While the Hamtramck solution got things done in a way that was effective (buh-bye potholes) and nicely shame-y (thanks for nothing, Michigan legislators and Governor Snyder), it's probably not a viable plan for the city of Detroit overall, or for the state's many terrible roads. Which solution—or combination of solutions—will out? No word yet, despite progress at the State House, so there's plenty of time for our readers to weigh in, and to add suggestions of their own.

·New twist in road funding plan [Crain's Detroit Business]
·Gasoline Tax [American Petroleum Institute]
·House mulls 15-cent gas tax hike to fix Michigan roads [Detroit Free Press]
·Michigan Smoking Data [America's Health Rankings]
·State House Road Bills [Michigan Legislature]
·Hamtramck 'Guerrilla Road Repair' goes DIY on potholes [Detroit Free Press]
·Hamtramck Guerrilla Road Repair [GoFundMe]
·Just Fix the Roads [Just Fix the Roads]