New tool to track road conditions rolled out in Macomb County

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel points to a display with proposed legislative solutions for road repair funding during a press conference Wednesday at the Macomb County Communications and Technology Center in Mount Clemens.

Mount Clemens — Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel unveiled a new interactive tool Wednesday that allows taxpayers and legislators to see exactly how much money is needed to repair a particular stretch of road or bridge in the county.

Hackel stood in front of an enlarged screen at the Macomb County Department of Roads to demonstrate how it works by clicking on a city, then a street and finally a particular stretch of that street. The millions of dollars needed to repair it popped up on the screen.

Hackel said this data-driven approach allows the county now to be specific about exactly how much money is needed to repair the roads.

“Now that we have real numbers, I’m going up to Mackinac (Policy Conference) with a positive attitude and saying, 'I’m willing to work with you,'” he said about next week's confab. “I’m not going to give up on it.”

Together with the Macomb County Planning and Economic Development, the county created the interactive mapping tool to track what roads were in good, fair or poor condition. It was determined that 20% of primary and local roads are in good condition, 22% are in fair condition and 58% are in poor condition.

The county's Department of Roads is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of 38 percent of Macomb County’s 4,066 miles of roadway — including major roads, bridges and subdivisions.

To view the road conditions and costs map, visit

More than $2.3 billion in funding is needed to fix deteriorating roads and bridges under Macomb County’s jurisdiction, Hackel said. And the county does not have that kind of money.

Hackel was joined Wednesday by local leaders as he announced that the money is needed to fix all 1,278 lane miles of poor roadway and 39 deficient bridges.

And he clearly defined who needs to do what to make it happen.

“Fix the roads, fix the roads, that’s all I hear all the time, and I’m tired of it,” he said. “There isn’t any road that needs fixing in this county that we don’t know about. The governor ran on the platform of ‘fix the damn roads.’ But it’s not so much about fixing the roads as it is about fixing the funding.”

The $2.3 billion needed to fix the poor roads includes $976 million for major roads, $78 million for bridges and $1.24 billion for subdivision roads. This year, the county will receive $70 million from the state in Michigan Transportation Funds for road repair and reconstruction.

Not nearly enough, according to Hackel. But he knows who should fix the funding.

“The public doesn’t care who’s responsible for that,” he said. “They just want somebody to fix the roads, and it’s the state’s responsibility.”

While standing in front of a sign that read, “Proposed Legislative Solutions,” he rattled off a list, including: “Find it in the budget,” “Gas tax, “ “Sales tax” and “Vehicle registration,” among others.

Hackel was so impassioned about the issue, he paced in front of the room gesturing animatedly and issued this plea to legislators: “Stop talking and pick a solution so we can move on."

"Legislators need the courage to do something, even if they know it may be harmful to them in the next election," he said. "It’s their responsibility to come up with funding. What are they going to do about it? It’s their responsibility to figure it out.”

He even announced his own last-ditch effort to raise funds for the roads. And he wasn't really smiling at that moment, so it was difficult to determine, at first, if he was serious.

“Get ready for the next press conference where I’m going to announce the opening of a lemonade stand,” he said. “We’re still debating whether to charge 5 cents or 10 cents a cup.”