Officials say Prop 1's loss means roads will get worse

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Detroit area road officials said Wednesday Proposal 1's crushing defeat Tuesday doesn't change the dire need for millions of dollars more in aid to repair roads and bridges.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, who didn't campaign for Proposal 1, made the need clear Wednesday.

Patterson asked the county's Board of Commissioners to approve a one-time appropriation of $2 million to help the Road Commission for Oakland County replace 12 aging tandem dump trucks with accessories and three John Deere motor graders that cost $3.8 million.

"Voters sent a clear message to Lansing with the defeat of Proposal 1 — find a real solution to fix our roads," he said. "Meanwhile, Oakland County drivers suffer from road conditions worsened by decades of underfunding by the state."

Eighty percent of voters rejected Proposal 1, despite backing from Gov. Rick Snyder, legislative leaders and the promise of raising $1.3 billion more annually for road and bridge improvements. Many voters cited the complicated nature of the measure, which promised more money for education, transit, and police and fire, too.

Craig Bryson, spokesman for the county road commission, said "officials are committed to helping to facilitate a solution to fix the roads and bridges.

"We're just going to continue to work with the Legislature and try to find another solution," Bryson said. "... The problem is not going away, and it's only going to get worse."

Robert Hoepfner, director of Macomb County Roads, similarly said the loss was disappointing but voters were troubled by the complicated ballot measure.

"I don't know if the citizens realized how much money was going to go into road improvement. It was significant," Hoepfner said.

The commission will continue with projects and patchwork repairs but no new money means road problems won't change, he said.

"I think the people of Michigan have to realize that the roads are not going to get any better under the present funding formula," Hoepfner said.

Michigan Department of Transportation spokesman Jeff Cranson echoed the sentiment.

"For several years, road agencies across the state have made the case for more investment," Cranson said. "That need is only growing more vital. ... MDOT will continue to ... stretch the road dollars to maintain a safe and efficient system."