Municipalities can’t wait on state to fix our roads

Published 4:32 pm Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Until state legislators can come up with a way to fix roads that makes sense, local municipalities will have to take matters into their own hands.

Niles Township appears to be going this route. Today, the township is expected to decide to place a special assessment on the ballot of a special election in August in order to fix its roads.

It would allow voters to decide whether or not they want to pay a little bit extra each year in exchange for better roads.

We wouldn’t be surprised to see this type of action taken in municipalities across the state.

Local officials are tired of waiting for state legislators to figure out a way to free up money for Michigan’s crumbling roads. Many don’t believe it will ever happen.

In Berrien County, the road commission is the organization responsible for keeping most of the roads safe.

However, its director Louis Csokasy said they don’t have enough money to do much more than the bare minimum.

The county has 47 miles of road that are beyond repair. Csokasy said those roads will likely have to be ground up and turned into gravel roads. Niles Township has about five miles of road in this condition.

Why gravel roads? Csokasy said it costs about $20,000 per mile for the road commission to grind up a bad road and turn it into gravel. To re-pave, it costs about $60,000 per mile for them to do the same thing, but with the added step of placing a hard cap of asphalt on top.

It is a matter of economics.

The county just doesn’t have the money to maintain and fix anything other than main thoroughfares. It is a sad truth that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.

That’s why we expect to see more places, like Niles Township, try to raise the money on their own.

After all, what other choice do they have?

This at least lets citizens have a say in the matter.


Opinions expressed are those of the editorial board consisting of Publisher Michael Caldwell and editors Ambrosia Neldon, Craig Haupert, Ted Yoakum and Scott Novak.