LANSING, Mich. (WZZM) - Hundreds of Michigan communities have depleted road maintenance budgets due to a prolonged, brutal winter, but the infusion of nearly $61 million in emergency funds should ensure that potholes get filled.
The payout announced today is part of a $100 million supplemental spending bill signed last month by Gov. Rick Snyder.
"These funds are badly needed by counties, cities and villages to compensate for the extraordinarily high costs of plowing, salting and filling potholes this past winter,'' Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle said in a news release.
Eight West Michigan counties will receive more than $8.5 million, including a $1.9 million payout to Kent County. Kent County's five largest cities will get more than $1.3 million, with 61 percent of that going to Grand Rapids.
"We're into April and we're still looking at freezing rain and snow this weekend,'' Kent County Road Commission Director Jerry Byrne said. "We can't budget for what is now being called the second highest snowfall on record.''
Kent County plans its annual budget based on five-year snowfall averages. The five-year snowfall average in Kent County ranges between 72 and 75 inches, Byrne said. Grand Rapids this season is up to 114 inches through today.
"It doesn't matter if it snows in October, April or May – it all comes out of the same budget,'' he said.
Kent County allocated $4 million for road maintenance this year. The cost of keeping roads cleared of snow this season is going to push expenses to $6.5 million, Byrne said.
Without an infusion of emergency cash, the anticipated $2.5 million shortfall would have put spring and summer maintenance projects on hold, he said.
"The state money will go towards reimbursing the cost of winter maintenance so we don't have to deplete other funds,'' Byrne said. "Without it, we wouldn't have money to fix potholes and seal roads.
"And even now, we'll probably have trucks out salting tonight or Saturday if we get the snow and ice being forecast. It's still winter, unfortunately.''
Here is a breakdown of money allocated to communities for winter road work
County Amount awarded
- Allegan $537,450
- Barry $296,856
- Ionia $294,757
- Kalamazoo $838,353
- Kent $1,887,284
- Muskegon $588,239
- Newaygo $340,744
- Ottawa $1,077,088
Cities Amount awarded
- East Grand Rapids $49,586
- Grand Rapids $836,577
- Grandville $61,219
- Walker $102,278
- Wyoming ' $304,371