County Road Association Says MI Needs $2-Billion More Per Year for Roads

For anybody who has driven the roads of Michigan anytime in recent days, there will likely be no surprise factor at all in today’s announcement from the Michigan County Road Association that the state needs an additional $2-Billion more per year for the state’s county road and bridge network.

The state’s County Road Association today released a new analysis of county infrastructure needs across the Great Lakes State, and their 2019 Michigan County Road Investment Plan concludes there is a need for $2 billion in additional annual investment to, as Gov. Whitmer says it, “Fix the damn roads!”

More than three decades have passed since the last state-sponsored Highway Needs Study was completed on Michigan’s total road and bridge network. Taking up responsibility for aggregating the investment needed and creating the vision to restore the county road infrastructure, the County Road Association of Michigan today released the Michigan County Road Investment Plan. The Investment Plan provides a realistic picture for restoring the 75-percent of Michigan roads and 52-percent of bridges under county jurisdiction.

The Michigan County Road Investment Plan of 2019 concluded:

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  • The statewide target investment for the 90,000-mile, 5,700-bridge local network is $3.6-billion annually.
  • Of that total, $1.6 billion is already directed to county roads through FY 2019, including legislatively-appropriated income tax dollars and increased annual gas tax and vehicle registration fees through FY 2019. That means a $2-billion additional annual investment is required to achieve county road goals.

The County Road Association has established the same restoration goal for county roads that the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is utilizing:

  • 90-percent good/fair on federal aid-eligible roads by 2029. These roads currently have an average rating of 45-percent good/fair across all counties.

For the local road system CRA has set the following goal:

  • 60-percent good/fair on local, nonfederal aid-eligible roads by 2029. These roads currently have an average rating of 36-percent across all counties.

The County Road Investment Plan includes a first-of-its-kind look at overall condition of the non-federal aid-eligible road system. The data shows more than 64-percent of local and primary county roads (31,000 miles) ineligible for federal aid are in poor condition, compared to 55-percent (23,000 miles) of the county federal aid-eligible roads.  Counties’ 36,500 miles of unpaved road conditions are not included in the report; however, the Investment Plan includes the cost of maintaining the unpaved system.

The Investment Plan addresses only funds needed to preserve and restore the current system, and does not contemplate system improvements (for example, additional lanes, roundabouts or paving gravel roads).

Denise Donahue is Director of the County Road Association of Michigan. She says, “This Investment Plan establishes a clear picture of the condition of county transportation infrastructure, which as we all know has suffered from years of underfunding,” and adds, “This Investment Plan represents 83 county road agencies coming together to share apples-to-apples data to enable a more comprehensive discussion of funding for all roads in Michigan.”

Donahue points out that, “Virtually every trip a Michigan driver takes includes a county primary and local road.  They are vital to Michigan commerce including transporting Michigan’s natural resources from mining to timber and agriculture; to tourism; and our daily trips to stores, work, church and schools.”

The Michigan County Road Investment Plan examined the financial needs of maintenance and capital investment on 90,000 miles of federal aid-eligible and non-federal aid-eligible roads; more than 5,700 bridges; and buildings, facilities and equipment that are critical components to running an efficient county road agency.

It represents the first needs study performed on the county road system since 1985 when the state discontinued its Michigan Highway Needs Study that looked at the three jurisdictional entities: county road commissions (75-percent of road miles); municipal agencies (17-percent); and the Michigan Department of Transportation (8-percent).  The state had commissioned the study with a multi-agency coordinating committee from 1948-1985 with off-the-top Michigan Transportation Funds.

A consultant performed the study for CRA during the first quarter of 2019, with assistance from the Baraga, Barry, Kent and Oakland county road commissions.

The 2019 County Road Investment Plan marks the first-ever release of compiled ratings for non-federal aid-eligible roads across all 83 counties. Federal aid requirements mandate a specific protocol for rating this portion of the county road system. Ratings are not required for non-federal aid-eligible roads and generally do not appear in the online Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC) “dashboards.” A three-person, three-agency, annually-certified panel is required to drive all roads and agree on PASER (Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating) levels; these are published by the TAMC.

Getting PASER levels on the vast miles of county non-federal roads is often too burdensome and costly for rural road agencies.  Most counties do rate their non-federal roads often with a single individual, meaning the numbers are not submitted to, nor published in, their entirety by TAMC. The County Road Investment Plan has compiled this information for 74 county road agencies, and used that average for the nine others.

Ed Noyola is Deputy Director and Legislative Liaison for the County Road Association. He says, “We are confident this data accurately reflects the current condition and investment needed to restore Michigan’s county road infrastructure,” and adds, “Creating a ‘road map’ if you will, of realistic goals for restoring the 75-percent of roads under county control requires good, current data and we are pleased to be bringing this report to the table.”

Click the link below to review the County Road Condition Rating: Federal Aid and Non-federal Aid.


Click the link below to review the entire 2019 County Road Investment Plan.


The 83 members of the County Road Association of Michigan represent the unified voice for a safe and efficient county transportation infrastructure system in Michigan, including appropriate stewardship of the public’s right-of-way in rural and urban Michigan.  Collectively, Michigan’s county road agencies manage 75-percent of all roads in the state, including 90,000 miles of roads and 5,700 bridges. County road agencies also maintain the state’s highway system in 64 counties.