Understanding the Maps

&

Frequently Asked Questions

The colors on these maps are just as important as those on a stop light. 

Green

Good roads are vital to our economy and quality of life. They see us safely to work, school, home and on our daily travels.

Red

Poor roads represent the pothole-riddled streets that frustrate Michigan motorists, the congested highways and weight-restricted bridges that stifle economic growth.

Yellow

Fair roads are the caution light that has been ignored over the past decade of decline. Pay now or pay a lot more later as the cost to bring roads back to good condition more than doubles when a road falls from fair to poor condition.

What roads are shown on the maps? 

The maps only show paved roads that are eligible for federal-aid spending. This includes all MDOT maintained roads and the roads under county or municipal jurisdiction other than “local” roads. Local roads are typically low-volume paved roads, subdivision streets, and gravel roads. 

For consistency with TAMC, the maps show all roads in National Functional Class 1-6. 

Why aren’t “local” roads shown on the maps?

Since 2004, local road agencies have been required to report the condition of federal-aid roads by the Michigan Legislature. Recently, local road agencies have been required to collect and report ratings on “local” roads, but there is not consistent data available statewide.

Why are there more miles listed in 2018 than in 2012?

The 2012 and 2018 maps represent snapshots in time. As additional local road agencies rate their federal-aid pavement conditions and report data to TAMC, more miles are being rated each year.

Ratings were reported on 1937 more lane miles in 2017-2018 than in 2011-2012 – a two percent increase statewide.

Why are the ratings for two years combined?

Due to resource constraints, local road agencies are only required to collect data on half of the roads in their system each year. Therefore, all roads are rated over a two-year period. 

MDOT rates their roads every year and most local agencies report data bi-annually. Each year, TAMC pulls data using the most recent data available for each road. For this reason, 2012 data includes ratings collected in 2011 and 2012. Likewise, the data for 2018 covers data collected in 2017 and 2018. 

These maps are hard to see in detail. How do I view the road conditions in my district?

The TAMC website provides interactive maps that allow visitors to zoom in and view the most recent condition of roads and bridges. The maps show data collected in 2018 but will not show current year improvements. Since local agencies are only required to rate half of their road system annually, some construction projects from 2018 may not show on this map. 

If road conditions are improving, why do we need more road funding?

The road ratings shown on the maps are a snapshot in time. The maps do not show the actual number of miles that were improved or the number of miles that fell from good to fair or fair to poor. 

Most of the roads in good condition are in good condition due to preventive maintenance treatments. Just like a homeowner paints a fence, stains a deck, or replaces shingles on a roof to prevent water from doing damage; road agencies resurface pavements to increase the service life. A properly maintained road will have several preventive maintenance treatments before a road needs major rehabilitation or reconstruction. These treatments typically last 5 to 10 years. While a road’s PASER rating may increase to good or remain in good/fair condition with a new surface, another treatment will be needed in the future to maintain that condition.

The graph below shows that preventive maintenance is cheaper than a full road reconstruction project (the old worst-first approach). A road agency needs enough funding to apply preventive maintenance treatments before a road deteriorates to poor condition. These cost-saving treatments extend the lifecycle of a road and delay the need for more costly reconstruction projects. 

The full 2015 road funding package hasn’t kicked in yet. Won’t that provide enough revenue?

Recent increases in road funding have allowed MDOT and local road agencies to make improvements, but roads are deteriorating at a much faster rate than they can be repaired or replaced. 

This graph from the 2018 TAMC Annual Report shows significantly more roads falling from good to fair and fair to poor than are being improved.

It costs 6 to 14 times more to repair a road in fair or poor condition than it costs to keep a good road in good condition.

Why were 2012 and 2018 selected for comparison?

In Feb. 2013, Gov. Snyder presented the FY’14 budget and asked the Michigan Legislature to pass legislation generating $1.2 billion in new state revenue for roads, plus up to $280 million in additional voter-approved local options. The estimated annual need to improve just the MDOT system at that time was $1.2 billion.

While recent increases in funding have helped to bring some roads into good condition, road conditions continue to deteriorate at a faster rate than they can be improved. According to the 2018 TAMC Annual Report, from 2015 to 2018, 16.7% of lane miles improved while 21.3% of lane miles deteriorated. 

In Feb. 2019, when Gov. Whitmer presented the FY’20 budget, state roads were at only 78% good or fair condition. Poor roads forecast to double from 22% to 44% within the next five years.

The maps presented here represent road conditions throughout the funding debate. 

Where did the maps come from?

The maps were created by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget’s Center for Shared Solutions (CSS). The maps were not created at the taxpayer’s expense. To educate lawmakers and the public on asset management and the deteriorating condition of Michigan roads, the Michigan Road Preservation Association (MRPA) submitted a request to the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC) for access to the data necessary to create the maps and charts. The request was granted.

With the financial support of MITA and all road industry associations, MRPA became the client of the State of Michigan. All maps and charts were created by CSS in the same manner reports are generated for the TAMC. Expenses were charged to MRPA based on a formal memorandum of agreement.