Pothole Politics: Why Funding May Wait Until After The Election

Posted at 5:49 PM, Mar 17, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-17 18:07:26-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (March 17, 2014) – As West Michigan falls deeper and deeper into pothole season, drivers are not the only ones swerving to avoid the problem.

Politicians are looking to place the blame for the winter side effects on the other side of the aisle, trying to sway voters before the election in November.

This year more than others those potholes are shaping the political landscape as well as the roads.

FOX 17 spoke with Rick Baker, the president of The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s always frustrating when the political system becomes gridlocked around an issue,” he said.  “Infrastructure is the bloodline for business.”

Republican Governor Rick Snyder has spoken out on the ‘Just Fix the Roads’ campaign.  Two years ago he asked state lawmakers to find a billion dollars a year to help fund transportation projects.

Democrats recently launched a campaign called ‘Snyder Holes’ blaming the governor for the lack of money needed for repairs.

As the back-and-forth politics play out, Michigan Department of Transportation Director, Kirk Steudle said the waiting hurts everyone involved.

“This isn’t a Republican problem or a Democratic problem,” he said.  “This a problem for the state of Michigan.  Us saying we want to invest in our infrastructure and frankly that is what we all need to say.  This is important.  Roads are important.”

Neither Steudle nor Baker are convinced a solution will be found soon.  They are more worried about what the final bill will be as we continue to thaw out from a long, cold winter.

“In the next two weeks you are going to see roads that looked fine last year crumble in front of your eyes,” said Steudle.

The MDOT director said while potholes are a very visible problem that drivers can easily relate to, bridges in our state are also in need of millions of dollars worth of repairs.