Report: Kent Co. bridges among worst in Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- One out of every eight bridges in the state of Michigan is considered to be structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, according to a report recently released by (MITA) Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association.

The report listed Kent County as being the sixth worst in the state for having bridges in these conditions.

The extensive statewide analysis done by MITA was performed on 11,000 state and local bridges.

"100 of Kent County's 515 bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete," said Mike Nystrom, executive vice president of MITA. "That means approximately 20% of the bridges [in Kent County] are in poor condition."

Annual funds have been made available by the state to MDOT and the city road commissions, but only enough to maintain the bridges - not fix the problems.

Two years ago, during his State of the State address, Governor Rick Snyder called for an additional $1.4 billion to be investing into Michigan's infrastructure, but that debate among lawmakers wages on.

"That's why I have been calling for this the last couple of years, so a solution can be put in place," said Governor Snyder Wednesday while visiting the Tulip Festival in Holland. "One metric that I think people should think about is if you're driving to or from or around in a day, and you go over or under eight or more bridges, statistically that meats at least one of them is structurally deficient; that can't make you feel good."

MDOT can't fix the issues with the bridges until state funds are allocated.

"Michigan is ranked dead last in the country when it comes to road and bridge investment," said John Richard, spokesperson for MDOT in Kent County. "The news is out there; people know about it, now the lawmakers need to do something about it."

MITA agrees that the only way Michigan bridges can get an overhaul is if the legislature addresses the need for a long-term, annual, stable source of revenue for transportation infrastructure.

"If we shoot too low, the general public is going to believe the roads are going to be fixed, and we'll end up in a situation where we just continue to put a band aid on where we need major surgery," added Nystrom.

There will be a full floor debate about Michigan infrastructure in the State House of Representatives within the next couple of days. After that, the issue will move to the Senate.


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