Ann Arbor has the third-worst roads in Michigan, trailing only Detroit and Grand Rapids in rankings of the 1,800 municipalities in the state released yesterday by the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association.

In the study, which evaluated federally funded roads throughout the state, Detroit came in first with 586 miles of roads in poor condition, followed by Grand Rapid with 200 and Ann Arbor with 189.

Mike Nystrom, vice president of government and public relations for MITA and co-chair of the Michigan Transportation Team, said in an interview yesterday that the study demonstrates that roads in large urban areas are in the worst shape.

He added that since the annual study began three years ago, Michigan’s roads have worsened.

“(The study) shows that we’re going in the wrong direction,” he said. “The number of lane miles falling under the category of poor pavement condition is growing.”

From 2007 to 2008, the number of roads in poor condition increased 7 percent. According to the report, “poor” roads require total repair, which could cost four to five times as much as standard road maintenance.

The study also assessed the roads in Michigan’s 83 counties.

Washtenaw County came in fourth in the study’s rankings of the counties with the greatest distance of roads in poor condition, with 977 miles.

Ann Arbor City Councilmember Sandi Smith (D–Ward 1) said she had not read the report and did not know why Ann Arbor’s roads were ranked the third worst in the state.

“Why ours rank worse, not better, than many other cities I don’t know,” she said.

She said various cities have laid off employees in order to allocate funds to other areas in need like road upkeep, but said Ann Arbor has not yet done this.

Nystrom said it’s ultimately up to the state to increase transportation funding investments. He said the legislature could do this by establishing gas taxes and registration fees, in addition to coming up with new ideas like building toll roads and forming public-private partnerships.

If the state doesn’t address road problems soon, Nystrom said Michigan’s roads will continue to fall apart.

“The longer our state-elected officials wait to act on this issue,” he said, “the further behind we will fall in terms of the amount of deterioration that we see on our roads and bridges.”

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