The State of Roads

County roads stripe Michigan’s vast land from the southern border with Ohio, Indiana and Illinois to the northern tip of the Upper Peninsula. They carry millions of people daily to work, school, stores and tourist destinations, and are vital to maintaining a vibrant Michigan economy.

County road agencies are responsible for maintaining, plowing, preserving and reconstructing those 90,500 miles of county roads, along with 5,900 local bridges. It is a monumental task as a decades-long shortfall in appropriate funding has left most roads and bridges eligible in either “fair” or “poor” condition.

County Road Investment Plan

style=The County Road Association (CRA) of Michigan has released the 2023 Michigan County Road Investment Plan, which provides a realistic picture for restoring the 75% of Michigan roads and 52% of bridges under county jurisdiction.

The Plan concluded:

  • The statewide target investment for counties’ 90,500-mile, 5,900-bridge local network now stands at $4.1 billion annually.
  • Of that total, nearly $1.8 billion in state revenue went to county roads and bridges in FY 2021. Doing the math, an additional $2.4 billion annual investment is needed to improve 15% of the roads per year – the goal set by CRA.

CRA has established the same restoration goal for county roads as the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT):

  • 90% good/fair for federal aid-eligible roads in 10 years. These roads currently have an average rating of 65% good/fair across all counties.
  • 60% good/fair for local, nonfederal aid-eligible roads in 10 years. These roads currently have an average rating of 44% across all counties.

Click here to read the full 2023 County Road Investment Plan.

Click here to read the full 2021 County Road Investment Plan.

Click here to read the full 2019 County Road Investment Plan.

Road Funds by County

The primary source of revenue to county road agencies comes from the Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF). All state fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees and other transportation-related fees are deposited into the MTF and distributed according to Public Act 51.

The Michigan Department of Transportation issues Annual Reports of MTF distributions that clearly show where revenue comes from and how it’s distributed.

Links to Michigan Transportation Fund Annual Reports:


Managing Our Road Assets

Virtually all county road agencies follow asset management principles to prioritize resources for roads under their jurisdiction. The challenge is moving away from the band-aid approach to a more holistic solution that is not a “worst-first” priority.

Leading the way in asset management, and tracking the condition of Michigan roads, is the Transportation Asset Management Council. The Council was established by the Michigan Legislature in 2002 to provide asset management tools, measurement dashboards and best practices for Michigan road agencies. The Council has 12 voting members from Michigan’s various transportation management sectors, including two who represent county road agencies.

The TAMC produces interesting “at-a-glance” dashboard charts that show pavement and bridge conditions by county; revenue and expenditures for each county road agency; and trend data including traffic counts and traffic crashes.

Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council

Efficiencies on Roads

Michigan is not just the birthplace of the mass-produced automobile! It’s also the place where locally-controlled county road agencies gave birth to the modern road-building industry.

The first mile of concrete road, the first center-line painter, the first snow plow and the first below-grade super highway were all innovations of Michigan’s county road agencies.

County road agencies continue to be innovative through advances in modern technology and engineering techniques. Innovations and efficiencies, both large and small, have allowed county road agencies to do more with less.