Mark Hackel is the Executive for Macomb County, Michigan. At a press conference yesterday he told reporters the crumbling roads aren't just bad for wheels and tires, they pose a major risk to residents' safety.
"People are losing tires, bending rims, damaging their vehicles and causing accidents that can be very harmful," Hackle said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "If it's a damage-causing pothole where somebody is going to be harmed or you're damaging your vehicle you can rest assured somebody else is going to do the same thing."
He said the county would respond within an hour of a report of a dangerous pothole, and pledged to work overtime to ensure driver safety in the county. Hackel pleaded with residents last year to call 911 on dangerous potholes, which prompted worry from State Police about drivers tying up emergency phone lines. This year however, law enforcement is on board with the plan.
Michigan has some of the worst roads in the nation. The state spends the least per capita on roads, even though brutal winters with several freezes and thaws wreck roads with incredible efficiency. The Free Press recently counted over 30 potholes on a one-block stretch of road in the city of Hamtramck.
Recently, the Michigan legislature attempted to address the issue, only to kick the can down the road to a May referendum on raising the sales tax to pay for repairs. Should voters reject the ballot initiative, residents will suffer through another two winters before a solution will be reached.
And it's not just driver safety that is at stake when roads crumble. According to The Wall Street Journal, the American Society of Civil Engineers predicated that between 2012 and 2020, bad roads and freeways will drive up expenses for companies and hurt overall productivity. Up to $3.1 trillion could be drained from the nation's gross domestic product due to bad infrastructure.