Lesser traveled local roads left out of Whitmer's $3.5 billion bond plan

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FLINT (WJRT) (1/30/2020) - Just hours after revealing her Rebuilding Michigan plan during Wednesday's State of the State address, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wasted no time putting it into action.

She held a news conference this morning to launch her short-term funding plan to rebuild aging state highways and bridges.

The quickly approved financing will come from new bonds that will allow the Michigan Department of Transportation to borrow $3.5 billion over five years to pay for top priority work.

The additional money is supposed to add and expand more than 100 road projects. But, the plan leaves many roads out in the cold with county and local officials scrambling to find money to fix them.

According to a USA Today report, Michigan ranks as the 12th worst roads in the country with 7.6% in poor condition. Help could be coming, but it's the most traveled roads that will benefit the most.

"Our roads are terrible. Genesee County has got some really rough roads. And so, I'd like to see a little more spent here, but I would rather have some start," said Chris Christenson, a Grand Blanc resident.

Here is what it means to drivers at the Corunna Road and Court Street split in Flint. The Corunna Road side is eligible for the additional funding because it is a state highway, but Court Street is not because it is classified as a local road.

The $3.5 billion being borrowed can only be spent on interstate highways or state-owned M- routes, but not on local streets.

Even with several billion extra dollars available this year, there are so many roads in bad shape that some see the additional funds as a short-term, not long-term solution.

"We can throw a billion dollars at this. We can throw two, we can throw 10 billion. But, how do you control material costs?" said Republican State Sen. Ken Horn.

Others say it's better than doing nothing at all.

"We recognize that until the majority party is willing to really, truly come to the table with a serious plan, the governor is going to use the tools that are available to her to get the job done," said Democrat State Rep. Vanessa Guerra.

The move comes after the governor's pitch for a 45-cent gas tax increase failed to gain traction last year in the Republican-led Legislature.

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