From left, Macomb County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Smith, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Macomb County Treasurer Larry Rocca and Chief Deputy Treasurer Joe Biondo discuss new road funding options April 5 at COMTEC in Mount Clemens.

From left, Macomb County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Smith, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Macomb County Treasurer Larry Rocca and Chief Deputy Treasurer Joe Biondo discuss new road funding options April 5 at COMTEC in Mount Clemens.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Macomb County weighing options on road funding

Partnering with local municipalities possible

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published April 9, 2018

 Hackel said state funding is nowhere near enough to fix the county’s hundreds of dilapidated roads.

Hackel said state funding is nowhere near enough to fix the county’s hundreds of dilapidated roads.

Photo by Deb Jacques

MACOMB COUNTY — Everyone knows Macomb County roads are in disarray. The problem has been finding an adequate way to pay for reconstruction.

On April 5, at the COMTEC building in Mount Clemens, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Macomb County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Smith, County Treasurer Larry Rocca and Chief Deputy Treasurer Joe Biondo discussed a revamped plan moving forward: using about $20 million from the county’s delinquent revolving tax fund to provide temporary fixes on municipal roads.

That same methodology was used in 2017 after immediate work was required on the 15 Mile Road sinkhole, with $8 million coming from the delinquent tax fund and $12 million coming from the county’s general fund. That loan was later repaid when a bond was approved. 

“We have a challenge, and the challenge is, we have some incredibly problematic roads,” Hackel said.

Hackel said the entire state budget is inadequate to deal with the amount of road reconstruction that needs to take place in Macomb County alone. 

Drawing from what he coined as a March 15 “promissory note” from Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle, Macomb County is receiving annual increases of $5 million through 2021, due to a 2015 state road funding package worth $2.1 billion. The funds began in the 2017 fiscal year.

According to Steudle, Macomb County received $52 million in fiscal year 2017, and $57.8 million this year. By 2021, that number will jump up to $75 million, with the revenue package fully phased in. But with 800 miles of roads — at approximately $1.5 million per one lane mile’s construction — and 44 bridges needing aid, Hackel said it’s not sufficient to deal with a “monumental problem.”

“Five million a year doesn’t even come close to solving my problem,” he said.

The first major road on the agenda is Mound Road, from Interstate 696 to 14 Mile Road, in Warren. It would require a 50-50 price match between the county and Warren, similar to the recently announced Mound Road repaving taking place between 14 Mile and 18 Mile roads in Sterling Heights — a total approximate $10 million project.

However, these fixes are nowhere near permanent. The executive described “mill and pave” road work that would suffice for only a five to seven-year lifespan, at a price clip of about $800,000 per lane mile.

“Is it the perfect situation? Absolutely not,” he said, recalling how nearly a decade ago, the state said $1.9 billion would barely be enough to solve the road crisis.

Biondo said the delinquent tax fund currently has a balance of approximately $113.5 million. Smith called it “a state problem we’re forced as locals to deal with.” Currently, the county’s bond rating is AA+, and it will be reassessed if required.

Rocca said his office will do whatever is necessary to offer reprieve to the county and to local communities, saying, “We know (the roads) have to be taken care of sooner than later.”

Hackel stressed that if action is not taken now, roads like Mound may not otherwise be taken care of for possibly two or three years.