posted on November 20, 2012 15:30
The county will do a comprehensive review of all the bridges and culverts in Genesee County, costing around $375,000.
The pot of money for highway work, though, from the state and federal government is shrinking.
County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens explains why there is an increasing gap between revenue and expenses for highway projects.
"It sounds kind of funny that fuel-efficient cars is a bad thing for highway funding, but the way our gas tax is set up, it’s a set amount per gallon," Hens said. "It’s 18.4 cents per gallon, that goes to our highway bridge trust fund and as vehicles become more fuel efficient, they use less gas. The actual revenue generated by the set amount of gas drops over time and the cost to do repairs like asphalt and steel and concrete have been skyrocketing.”
Hens says bridges on heavily traveled interstate highways are getting the priority – which is logical from an engineering standpoint.
But that leaves some bridges -- such as the Bethany Center Road Bridge over Route 20 which is in dire need of work – without needed improvement.
It was originally scheduled for replacement in 2011, but cuts in funding pushed the project to at least 2015, Hens said, and now it doesn't look like it will be replaced even then. The South Lyon and Stroh Road bridges have also been pushed back on the replacement schedule.
Still, the planned capital review project for bridges and culverts will allow engineers to inventory and inspect the county's bridges and determine their current state of possible disrepair. That work will help the county better prioritize the limited resources for bridge and culvert replacement.