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More Than Century Old State Law Could Fund Washtenaw County Road Work

Sep 15, 2014

An act passed by the Michigan Legislature in 1909 to keep roads safe for Model T's could lead to a smoother ride for motorists in Washtenaw County next year.  It's back to the future for the latest effort to improve the quality of local roads.

Credit WEMU

Last winter's harsh weather, and a lack of funding to keep pace with the damage that's been done in recent years have left many area roadways full of bone jarring potholes. With no plan for additional road funds from the state, Washtenaw County may use Public Act 283 of 1909 to start making improvements.

Since the state act pre-dates the Headlee Amendment it doesn't require voter approval. The proposal would raise about $7.2 million for roadwork by assessing a half mill property tax.

County Commissioner Dan Smith says the one-year tax is only a first step to addressing the problem. "The estimates currently are in Washtenaw County alone on the major roads, $50 million of work that needs to be done.  That's not counting subdivision roads or secondary roads, that's just county major roads in Washtenaw County, $50 million of work," he says.

Smith says he would like to see voters consider a new roads millage on the November 2016 ballot, but says something needs to be done with the roads now.

The proposal calls on funds being spent within the county commissioner district where they are raised. The Road Commission has outlined nearly $4.2 million  of projects for townships in the county, while cities and villages would receive over $3 million for projects they identify.

The County Commissioners Ways and Means committee will consider the proposal Wednesday.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter— Andrew Cluley is the Ann Arbor beat reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him acluley@emich.edu.