Whitmer: Gas tax increase could pay for crumbling Michigan bridges

As the governor inspected crumbling bridges in Metro Detroit on Tuesday, she explains there just isn't enough money right now to replace them.

About 75 percent of MDOT's highway bridges are 40 or more years old. For example, the bridge at Hines Drive an Ann Arbor Road in Livonia was built in 1947. With crumbling cement, exposed metal, leaking water, the time for repairs has come and gone. This bridge, along with hundreds of others in Michigan, needs to be replaced.

"We're also looking at inflation increase and so a $4.2 million dollar project is likely to be increased to over $5 million when it's finally worked on ... to replace this structure," said Beckie Curtis with MDOT.

Whitmer visited Livonia on Tuesday to see the bridge firsthand.


"This bridge has been on a list for rebuilding since 2010 and it's been pushed back because of lack of funding," she said. "There are 1,100 bridges in Michigan right now that are in bad shape. There are 447 that are in critical condition. There are 62 that are closed because we don't have the funds to rebuild them."

The governor says her proposal to raise the gas tax by 45 cents a gallon by October 2020 is the only viable option when it comes to paying to fix and replace Michigan roads and bridges. But Republicans in the GOP controlled legislature have been very vocal in their opposition to the proposed gas tax. Whitmer says it's the only way to raise the more than $2 billion need to fix the state's roads and bridges.

"It's not easy to come out of the blocks and ask people to make a big investment like that but this is what 40 years of disinvestment in our state looks like. We have bridges that are unsafe. We have roads that are falling apart. We're all paying to fix our cars. I think it's time for us to do this and do it right," Whitmer said.

"Sticking our head in the sand is a recipe for a disaster and that's not acceptable."