Evans: Wayne Co. exploring road fix solutions

Tom Greenwood
The Detroit News

Hamtramck — While a crew poured and leveled fresh asphalt behind him, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said the county will commit to more inter-agency partnerships and operational efficiency to help offset a need for more road funding.

Evans announced the county's commitment at a press conference Tuesday in Hamtramck, where crews were making repairs to a one-mile stretch of Conant.

"Wayne County can't find a way to increase funding, but we can find a way to increase efficiency," Evans said. "We are trying to form relationships with other communities, perhaps even road swaps. Where jurisdictions overlap, we can sit down and talk about ways to make things simpler and more efficient."

Evans acknowledged the overall solution to road funding lies with legislators in Lansing.

"This is a legislative problem that needs to be fixed," he said. "I'm almost at the position where I want to say, 'We have a problem; let's fix it and work around any problems later.'"

Last week, the Michigan House adjourned for a three-week summer recess after failing to reach a deal on generating an extra $1.2 billion annually for the state’s crumbling roads. Lawmakers are still trying to come up with a solution after voters defeated Proposal 1 earlier this year.

Wayne County has allocated $23.6 million for 14 major road projects on top of an additional $32 million to maintain it's 750 miles of roads.

Nizam U. Ahmed, owner of Fair Sky Travel Agency on Conant, said good roads are essential to both the business and the image of the community.

"This is a viable community with thriving businesses," said Ahmed, who established his travel agency in the 1970s when many of the surrounding buildings were empty and boarded up.

"Then immigrants moved in, mostly from Bangladesh and Yemen, now there isn't a boarded up business on this entire stretch. An attractive road is good for business, especially in the winter when snow makes it difficult to move around."

Evans said no one knows when the Legislature will finally find a solution to road funding.

"But something as to be done," Evans said. "Our economy is growing, let's grow with it."

Wayne County’s press conference came one day after Macomb County officials met to voice their displeasure over the lack of road funding coming from Lansing while announcing plans to replace a barricaded bridge in Ray Township with a plan of their own.