Handyman: Repairing roads still hot topic this spring
Another pothole season is upon us, and after writing an article on the topic last spring, I thought it would be good to re-visit the issue to see if we made any progress. It is also a timely topic with all the current talk about the road funding ballot proposal, Proposal 1, that is on the May 5 ballot and would raise the state’s sales tax to help fund road repairs.
But not everyone in Lansing agrees that this is the best way to improve our roads.
“There are better ways fix our roads without having to raise taxes,” said Sen. Patrick Colbeck from Canton Township, (517) 373-7350, senatorpatrickcolbeck.com. Colbeck proposes a different approach to get the money necessary to repair our roads, including keeping all the taxes at the pump for the roads and re-prioritizing the money the state already has so there will be available funds for road repairs.
“There is no quick fix to our road problems, but we need to start now so there will be some benefit 10 to 20 years down the road,” he said.
Colbeck said part of the long-term strategy should include building roads that last longer, even if there is more upfront costs. “There are systems available for road building and repair that may cost 12 percent more upfront, but the roads would last four times longer,” he said.
When it comes to patching roads and potholes, systems like JetPatcher (jetpatcher.com), Patch Master (pavementspecialtiesinc.com) and Durapatcher (durapatcher.com) can provide a much longer-lasting repair versus the standard cold patch “throw and roll” method we see on Michigan roads, which may need to be repeated up to four times a year because it is less effective.
“Around 98 percent of the repairs we made last year with the PatchMaster are still intact and in great shape,” said Martin O’Connor of Pavement Specialties, (586) 268-4484.
“The pothole problem isn’t as bad this year due in part to the better winter weather and the fact that we also fixed many of the worst roads last year,” said Craig Bryson, Public Information Officer at the Road Commission for Oakland County, (248) 645-2000.
Bryson said the road commission uses a rating system to determine which roads need repair each year, and they also look at the safety of the various roads in the county to help determine which ones move to the top of the priority list. That’s why Bryson said Greenfield between Eight and Nine miles was at the top of the list last year. But as with most things, available funds also determines how many roads can be repaired each year and the type of method used to repair them.
Gary Mekjian, Public Services Director for Farmington Hills, (248) 871-2530, ci.farmington-hills.mi.us, said that while the jury is still out on some of the patching equipment available, it can also be very expensive to buy and maintain.
Mekjian said, “We try to avoid buying single-use equipment like this because it is very expensive to only be used for a few months each year.”
There is also the issue of who is responsible for the road. Some are city or township roads, while others are serviced by county. “If someone isn’t sure whether a road is a city or county road in Oakland County, they should just call us at the Road Commission and we can provide that information,” Bryson said.
If you would like to suggest a question for this column, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations.