"PRESERVING OUR FUTURE”
By: Brian A. Gutowski, P.E.
Emmet County Road Commission
Emmet County Road Commission Focuses on Preserving County Roads and Bridges
While state revenues available for road and bridge repairs have fallen to decade lows, the Emmet County Road Commission is committed to focusing available resources on preserving our county roads and bridges.
The Road Commission prioritizes pavement preservation as a way to preserve the county road network. By conducting preventative maintenance tasks while the pavement is still in good condition rather than letting it deteriorate into poor condition, the Road Commission will save revenue over the long term, allowing more projects to be completed. Every dollar invested in preventative maintenance today, prevents spending $6-$14 later as pavements deteriorate and become more costly to repair.
It may be difficult for some residents to understand why we are working on roads that appear to be in good condition when there are so many roads that are in worse condition. Over the long term, this is how we can get the best bang for the limited amount of money we have to maintain our roads. It is like changing the oil in your car: pay a little now, or pay much more later.
There are many different kinds of preventative maintenance or pavement treatments such as, crack sealing, chip seal, asphalt wedging, or ultra-thin asphalt overlay. The trick is to apply the right fix at the right time on the right road. This is part of a larger strategy called “Asset Management” which is designed to maintain the value of our significant investment in our roads and bridges.
The Road Commission has crack sealed 13.10 miles, asphalt wedged 17.34 miles, and applied an ultra-thin asphalt overlay on 5.07 miles of county roads in 2012. Most of the work was performed on the local road system thanks to the townships that cover 100% of the cost for those improvements on local roads. The 36 miles of improvements sound like a lot but there are 588 miles of local roads and 244 miles of primary roads that have to be maintained.
Roads throughout the State have been deteriorating to the point that 45.7% of the federal-aid roads were rated in “poor” condition according to the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council. Federal-aid roads are those that include State highways and major county primary roads are reported to be in better shape than local roads. This makes getting the best value for the money paid for road maintenance vitally important.
We are doing the best we can with the revenues available to preserve what we have. We were able to expend nearly $1.5 million on preventative maintenance projects this year, but we still have more than $45,000,000 in accumulated unmet needs to preserve our 600 miles of paved roads for the future. This does not take into account maintaining our 230+ miles of gravel roads.
The county road network is vital to families, schools, emergency response times, businesses, agriculture, tourism, and to the local economy. The State legislature has not increased road funding, state gas taxes and vehicle registration fees, since 1997. Despite our best efforts, our roads and bridges will continue to deteriorate without adequate funding. Because of the lack of funding the Road Commission turned 3.5 miles of primary road (Larks Lake Road) back to gravel in 2010.
State and local road agencies have been actively using Asset Management for the past decade. To view a list of statewide federal-aid road conditions use the following link: http://www.mcgi.state.mi.us/MITRP/Data/PaserDashboard.aspx.
If anyone is interested in learning more about how Emmet County roads are scheduled for improvements please give us a call at 231-347-8142 or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org