(WJBK) - Governor elect Gretchen Whitmer traveled a long road to grab the state's top job. It was a road riddled with potholes that may have helped galvanize voters to get to the polls.
"The result of yesterday's election is that people are sending a very clear message, they want us to fix the damn roads,” she said to reporters Wednesday, a day after winning the governor's race.
So now what? Saying we have to fix the roads is one thing. But how?
"We have to fund our roads. The only way to fix our damn roads is to put more money into the roads and we hope she sticks to that," said Craig Bryson with the Oakland County Road Commission.
He depends on funding from the state for his commission, and all of metro Detroit was promised this after the legislature passed a 2015 measure.
From 2017-21, $1.2 billion a year is being spent to repair the broken roads. You pay for it every time you fill up at the gas station and renew your registration. A big chunk will also come from the general fund, but $1.2 billion is only a bandage.
"Even with all this new money that's coming in, putting every penny of it we can onto the road service, by 2025 we will only still have 51 percent of our roads in good condition," Bryson said. "So if we really want to get the roads in better shape it's going to take some more money - that's the bottom line."
Whitmer ran on a promise to change all that. She was asked the multi-billion-dollar question today: how? Whitmer says there's two ways to get it done.
"My goal is to have a dedicated source and I need legislative partners to help me get that done," she said Wednesday. "If they are not strong enough to do it then I will go to the voters and go for a bond but first and foremost I want to sit down with the leadership and really talk about how do we fix this."
Diane Cross says there's no one who wants to fix the roads more than MDOT. She knows it's been a world of orange and white riddled with pesky potholes.
"We are really looking forward to working with the new governor and hopefully more funding coming in for our roads and plans and that would be great and we're looking forward to it," she said.
But the money Whitmer has to secure isn't just about what we see on the surface -- it's deeper than that.
"Some of those surfaces are reconstruction, where we do a full reconstruction of the roads," Bryson said. "Some of them are a simple 2 inches of asphalt on top of the existing road. We know those are not long-term and permanent surfaces but they will get a smooth surface for the short term and it's much cheaper so we can do more of them.
"But we really need to reconstruct a lot of these roads, tear out the old existing road and put in a new one."