We received a glimpse, albeit a brief one, earlier this week of spring. A reminder that however long this rough winter has felt, it will eventually end.
We've seen the days become longer and the sun shine on us longer and we've seen those ridiculously high snowbanks beginning to shrink.
With the coming of spring, here in the Upper Peninsula, comes one of the most challenging times of the year for motorists ... pothole season. Many of us have already experienced the jolt from hitting a pothole or two that seemed to have appeared overnight.
However we may have a bit of good news along the pothole front. It looks like a compromise has been reached in the Michigan Legislature to spend $100 million to help state and local agencies fill potholes. In addition another $115 million has been earmarked for infrastructure construction projects.
Mlive.com reports the deal was finalized late Tuesday after negotiations between the House, Senate and Governor's office.
What surprises us is the divisive nature of the talks between the two legislative houses. Initially the House and Senate approved radically different versions of the spending bill. This is strange to us as, in Michigan at the moment, partisan bickering cannot be blamed as it is in Washington, D.C., because both houses and the governors seat are all controlled by Republicans.
While we applaud the spending for both potholes and infrastructure improvement, we hope this isn't a one-shot election year grandstand. Roads throughout the state are in trouble and as Lance Binoniemi of the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association said. "We need 10 times that amount, quite frankly, and on an annual basis." Governor Snyder has said the state needs more than a billion dollars a year to fix roads and bridges. Do the math, the $215 million is little more than a fifth of what the governor himself said is needed.
But we'll take it. And, frankly, up here in the U.P. we hope we see it. An ongoing concern is the fear the Upper Peninsula won't get its fair share of road money. We've certainly have more than our fair share of potholes.
True, there more people in Lower Michigan. But not one of those lives is any more precious than of those above the bridge.
And that's what this conversation is about. Safety.
That said, we appreciate the legislature for recognizing the state's pothole problem, and we hope this marks the beginning of them starting to do something about it.