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Poll: Michigan drivers hate their roads

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Michigan drivers are among the least satisfied in the nation with the condition of their state’s roads, according to a poll conducted by Gallup.

The poll found 35 percent of Michigan drivers said they are satisfied with the road conditions. Only Rhode Island has a lower percentage, with 31 percent of that state’s drivers expressing positive feelings about conditions in their state.

Michigan lawmakers have struggled to fund road projects in recent years before the passage last year of a measure in the state Legislature that would generate $1.2 billion extra per year for infrastructure projects. But because the plan is phased in, the state won’t reach the funding milestone until 2020.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law in November a plan that raises the gasoline tax by 7.3 cents a gallon and the diesel tax by 11.3 cents beginning Jan. 1, 2017. Registration fees on passenger cars, vans and trucks will rise 20 percent.

Only Hawaii, West Virginia and Louisiana had dissatisfaction percentages that were higher than 60 percent, the polling firm said.

The highest states for road satisfaction were North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah and South Dakota, which had 81, 78, 77, 77 and 74 percent approval ratings respectively.

Gallup said there is only “modest positive correlation” between state spending on roads per capita and residents’ satisfaction with roads.

“States vary widely in how much they spend on road construction and maintenance, and how they raise that revenue,” the polling firm said.

“The 10 states spending the most per capita on roads average 67 percent satisfaction, compared with 61 percent satisfaction among the 10 states spending the least per capita on roads,” Gallup continued. “The middle 30 states average 60 percent satisfaction.”

The polling firm added, “Rhode Island and Michigan have consistently ranked among the states with the worst-quality roads, based on studies of road conditions from government agencies and independent research organizations.

“Michigan voters named roads as the most important problem facing the state in a 2014 poll,” Gallup said. “State political leaders there have struggled to find a way to increase spending on roads.

“The governor and state lawmakers agreed on a deal in late 2014 that asked voters to approve an increase in state sales and gasoline taxes to help pay for road improvements, among other things, but voters overwhelmingly rejected that ballot proposal,” the poling firm continued. “Last fall, the governor and legislature finally agreed on legislation to raise the gas tax and increase vehicle registration fees to raise revenues to fix the roads.”

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