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Guest opinion:By Eric Wilson Oakland County Road Commissioner


State needs to raise gas tax to fix potholes



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March 12, 2014 - Enough is enough. Enough cold weather, snow and potholes.

We've seen more than our share of record cold weather and snow.

These have led to icy roads, countless potholes, challenging gravel roads and all manner of unpleasant conditions.

Frankly, enough is enough: Enough of Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) equipment taking a beating; enough of our staff working themselves to fatigue; enough of our budget being gouged.

Oakland County residents have had enough of blown tires, bent rims and rough rides. But, pothole season hasn't really even begun yet. Just wait until the spring thaw. We haven't seen anything yet.

Meanwhile, enough of the state Legislature failing to act by continuing to avoid talking about a real solution to our road funding crisis. While we appreciate that they are attempting to direct a small portion of the state's surplus funds toward roads, those extra dollars will barely make a dent.

The sad irony is that we are all paying a "hidden road tax" anyway – every time we have to purchase a new tire, get an alignment, replace a strut or tie rod, we're paying for Michigan's lack of investment in the roads. It would be far cheaper for most people to pay a little more in gas tax and a lot less in car repairs.

Enough of the sales tax on gas not going for roads and public transit (currently, the revenue from the six percent sales tax charged on gas does not go to roads or public transit). Unfortunately, though, our legislators seem frozen and unable to even discuss road funding , forcing all of us instead to endure roads resembling those in a third-world country.

Want to know what our roads could look like? Visit Ohio, which has had a 9-cent higher gas tax for years (28 cents per gallon), or Ontario, which has a provincial gas tax equivalent to more than 54 cents per gallon (14.3 cents per liter).

Back here in the Great Lakes State, we're stuck with a 19 cents per gallon gas tax – a rate that has not risen in 17 years. Our low gas-tax rate contributes to Michigan's ranking of dead last in the nation in per capita road funding according to the most recent TRIP report (TRIP is a non-profit Washington DC-based research group focused on road-related issues).

Enough is enough. It's time for our legislators to step up to the plate. Transportation infrastructure is one of the basic functions of government, and it's time our legislators provided the proper resources to maintain our public roads. It's time for action.

We encourage everyone who has had enough of the potholes and crumbling roads to contact your state legislators and ask them to address Michigan's road-funding crisis. Enough is enough.

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